“...And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
Alvin Toffler indicated in his seminal book Future Shock that when people are exposed to rapid changes they suffer from stress and disorientation that could lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety and burnout. They will need “islands of stability.” We have created these stabilizing islands out of emerging technological tools, media, and human and chemical distractions. We have even made church a spiritual retreat from the atrocities of our times. We might even be in danger of creating fantasy islands of self-indulgent aesthetic rituals instead of creating command centers that transform people, neighborhoods, and cultures on the roaring seas of violence, oppression and injustice.
In times like these, we may be tempted to content ourselves with building bridges over the troubled waters of racial biases, prejudice, and injustice or building boats for the refugees from an American economic and educational holocaust. We may be tempted to run from the backlash of poor decisions or no decisions on the sea called apathy.
In times like these, we must heed the words of Isaiah, Amos and Micah. If we fail to do justice like Israel in the Hebrew Bible, we just might incur God’s judgment. Any attempt to hide on a spiritual island of stability behind pious acts of worship would be futile. And what does the Lord require? We must act justly, love mercy, and walk humble with our God!
In times like these, let’s engage in worship that creates a hunger and thirst for justice; worship that gives voice to the voiceless and empowers the marginalized. Let’s engage in ministry that invites our friends, families, and neighbors to love and pursue the things that God loves, especially justice and mercy. Let’s plan our work and work our plan that stirs up the gifts within us to engage in a hopeful agitation for stimulating and sustaining active involvement in the world.
Our preachers and presenters are men and women on the cutting edge of social justice ministry. They have been engaged in ministry that has shaped and reshaped neighborhoods and have labored at the hard work of intervention, advocacy, protest and leadership.
I look forward to engaging in our second round of vision casting for the 2016-2020 quadrennial. You have already embraced creative avenues of ministry. Let’s move together to create a lasting legacy for generations to come!
Our hosts Rev. Damon Blakeley, St James AMEC and Rev. Marlon Jones, Greater Allen Temple AMEC have done innovative and excellent work in preparing for this meeting. Thank you to our host and associate presiding elders, Rev. Johnny Ray Mitchell, Rev. Dr. Marshall Hobbs, Sr., retired; Rev. Dr. Ella McDonald and Rev. Mittie Muse Sr. I’m always amazed at the gracious way the 10th District provides hospitality to everyone!
Supervisor and I extend special gratitude to our home team who work hard in front of and behind the scenes: Rev. Tyronda Burgess, Rev. Jasmine Saint-Jean, Mrs. Romella Jones, Rev. Lish Burgess, Rev. Darrell Caldwell, Rev. Delphine Vassar, Mrs. Shon Lee, Rev. Joni Russ, Rev. Linda Carmen Bryant, Mr. Billy Terrell, Mrs. Tangy Reed, Rev. James Pritchett, Rev. Dan Pride and Mrs. Vaneeka Pride. You continue to honor the Lord in your various capacities. Thank you!
By the Grace of God,
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie