Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Service of the Living Tradition

Every year at the Service of the Living Tradition held at General Assembly, graduates are honored that have achieved Preliminary Fellowship along with deceased ministers, retired and those that have gained Final Fellowship. This year was my opportunity to be showcased along with others. Here are a few pictures from the occasion.

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah
Question: What are you doing to show up in all your greatness and to testify to your call to life?

Cheers from Chi Town

L-R Qiyamah and Libra

L-R Qiyamah and Libra M. Finley (oldest daughter) in front of Fideity Bldg. in Chi Town

L-R Libra and Brandon (her son and my grandson-age 15 years)

L-R Qiyamah and Libra

I love it when my family comes to visit.
Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah
Question: Have you told your loved ones how much you love and appreciate them? What do you do to demonstrate your love and appreciation?

Community Partnership Program - Changing Lives to Change the World!

Dr. Mark Hicks, new faculty person at Meadville Lombard listening attentively to Father Bruce Wellums inside the Holy Cross Church in Back of the Yards.

L-R Father Bruce Wellums of Holy Cross and Mike Hogue, Professor of Theology at Meadville Lombard

L-R Father Bruce Wellums, Mike Hogue and a police officer from the 9th district

Interior picture of the Holy Cross Church located in historic Back of the Yards in Chicago, IL

These pictures were taken on June 19 during a tour of the 20th Ward that I conducted to introduce faculty (Sharon Welch, Mike Hogue and Mark Hicks) to some of the sites that will be hosting our first year students in our Community Partnership Program at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Through Meadville Lombard's new Community Partnership Program, due to begin Fall, 2008, we will introduce first year students to practicums located in the 20th ward community in Chicago. Holy Cross will be one such site that will engage them with staff and clients that provide critical services, and allow the students to explore and enhance multicultural competencies and learn how to be present with others different from them in environments where residents are underserved with minimal resources. Site experiences will be complemented by weekly faculty led reflection groups that focus on the theoretical, ethical and theological implications of service to marginalized populations and what it means to be of service to others.

May we be blessed to stand up and be present with others in their joys and sorrows; in their triumphs and despairs as we build a life worth living in times when hope is sometimes fleeting and a kind word and a smile are few and far between. May we know hope when the sun does not shine and when the light is cast aside by darkness. But still our hope springs ever eternal. Amen

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah
Question: What are you doing to change the world, beginning with yourself?

Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History

Thomas Norman DeWolf, author and past member of the Oregon Arts Commission and elected official.

..."And when darkness came to me, my visions brightness gave me hope, and I moved on to find tomorrow." Debbie Kennedy - Founder of Global Dialogue Center

The gentleman in the picture above is Thomas Norman DeWolf. He is the author of Inheriting the Trade: A Northern Family Confronts Its Legacy as the Largest Slave-Trading Dynasty in U.S. History. I recently had the opportunity to hear DeWolf at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly June, 2008 in Fort Lauderdale. In an hour and a half workshop, DeWolf recounted his family's involvement in the slave trade that resulted in great wealth for his ancestors on the one hand represented a tragedy of epic proportions that is only still being comprehended among the descendants of African people.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights leader, chair emeritus of the NAACP and widow of the late Medgar Evers contends that the book is "required reading for anyone interested in reconciliation. Healing from our historic wounds, which continue to separate us, requires us to walk this road together."

I am still absorbing and processing my feelings having sat in the midst of about 75 to 100 European American Unitarian Universalists and hearing this story directly narrated by someone that had traced their ancestors dastardly deeds. It is one thing to read about it. But another to hear it from such a direct source. I think that I disconnected from my feelings and emotions so that I could hear his words. Before I left I took his picture and obtained contact information so that once I am past the initial emotions I can talk with him about how he is using the proceeds from his book and video to help make a difference? I will grant that his book alone can be a part of a powerful healing but there is something perverted about making money off of the story of his slave trading ancestors that is disturbing. But so as not to sound like a hypocrite I Ghanaians.

Time does not allow me to linger but my thoughts will be on this troubling problem of healing and how best to create spaces to do so. Unitarian Universalists are in a particularly unique position to pioneer such work as religious liberals dedicated to the inherent worth and dignity. Furthermore, the publishing company, Beacon Press is a UU company whose mission if furthered by the successful pursuit of this work and marketing of the book.

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah
Question: How are you working to dismantle racism? What actions have you taken to interrupt racism? How are you working to foster healing in yourself and others?

Mis-steps, Milestones and Miracles

Nancy is a prison chaplain in North Carolina for 850 men in a medium security prison. She spends her days with men named Mad Dog, Porkchop and Pookie: murderers, rapists, child molesters and others who have made poor choices in life and committed acts of violence against others. Still others have messed up their lives over minor things and gotten caught by mandatory sentencing laws such as "three strikes and you are out" which include victimless crimes such as parole violations and possession of small amounts of substance abuse. Nancy talks about the Department of Corrections being a place of "unrelenting hopelessness, a place of darkness, where it is hared to see the light shining through." The first day on the job, the Lieutenant stopped by her office, "I'm not glad you're here. Women don't belong in a men's prison, they only make more work for me and my guards," he said. And this is how their professional relationship began.

After a few months,the Chaplain and the Lieutenant stepped into an altercation between prisoners and together stopped a fight. Later when things had quited down, the Lieutenant stopped by the Chaplain's office. "I know that you need me here," he said. "What I hate to admit is that I need you here." "You're right, Lieutenant, I do need you here to keep order on the floor, but how do you need me? She replied.

"I need you here to restrain my inclination to physical violence," he answered, "I need you to show me another way, another kind of force.

Source: recorded by Bob Reister in the newsletter of the Allisonville (Indiana) Christian Church http://www.zionvillecristian.org/sermon.html

Question: What are we teaching by our example? How do we let our light shine so that others might be influenced to try something different or inclined to a different path that might transform their lives?

...I've saved some sunshine should you ever need a place away from darkness for your mind to rest." Rod McKuen

Blessed Be! Rev. Qiyamah