Pastor's E-Letter

Pastor's E-Letter

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Pastor's E-Letter 1/31/20

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A couple of months ago I began watching the hit TV show, Mad Men, with a friend. (I know, I’m late, and I know- not too church appropriate!) It is a fantastic show, chronicling the life of Don Draper and the nature of the advertising business in Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s. It has won many awards for its excellence. However, early on in the series, I had to have my friend frequently pause the episode so that I could yell into a pillow. 

You see, while Mad Men is excellent in its character development, scenery, and costuming, it is also VERY historically accurate. It portrays the struggle of women in the advertising industry in the 1950s and 1960s. While they are independent, strong, and well-developed on their own, they also live in a world that does not value their gifts or their work. One of the main characters, Peggy Olsen, is excluded and pushed out by all except Don Draper in her quest to become a writer for the agency. In the world of Mad Men, a wife cannot seek mental health counseling without her husband’s permission. There are mean comments and awful abuse, portrayed in vivid detail.

Hence: the pillow-screaming. The comments made towards Peggy and others were at first, infuriating. And then, slowly, I started to feel grateful. The blatant mean-spiritedness, barriers to inclusion, and resistance to leadership is mostly a phenomenon of the past. We have come so far. Our world is not characterized by this blatant discrimination against women any longer. I work in a church and benefit from a world that values my gifts as a woman. I had a similar experience of gratitude as I did research on racial reconciliation. We have come so far. Yet, we still have room to grow. 

This week in worship, we will celebrate the way the church has led the world in valuing women. Jesus included women in his early ministry as disciples and supporters. Paul visited house churches led by women. John Wesley believed women could be called to teach and lead because of the strong influence his mother Susannah had on his formation and discipleship. Then, the United Methodist Church was one of the first mainline denominations to approve of female pastors. We know that when little girls witness women in leadership, it greatly improves their confidence. (Seriously, I could go on.) 

We’ll also talk about the ways that the world could improve. While we don’t live in the same world as Don and Peggy, we still see gender-based discrimination, even in the church. This harms all of us. Men are bullied for a lack of “masculinity” and women are still seen as less-than, not valued, or unable to lead. The “Me Too” movement is a watershed of women speaking up against the abuses they’ve faced, and the church has had its own “Church Too,” movement as well. 

Our job as the church is to pick up the work of Jesus, Paul, and John Wesley to celebrate the gifts of women AND men. Our job as the church is to include all people in the calling of God, and to echo the words of Galatians, “There is no longer male or female; we are one in Christ Jesus.”

You are such wonderful exemplars of this work and encouragement, and I can’t wait to continue with you.

See you Sunday,

Pastor Allee

Posted by Allee Willcox with

Pastor's E-Letter 1/17/20

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“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We remember these deeply moving words on what would have been Dr. King’s 91st Birthday weekend. We remember them, and we give thanks for the reconciliation brought through his life and legacy. What a world we now live in! In my life, descendants of former slaves have sat down with me, the descendant of former slave owners, at the table of brotherhood. We do often hold hands and work together for the dreams of our forefathers and foremothers. 

This reconciliation is not just for me. Our world now works for the equity of all people. The United Methodist Church continues to commit to reconciliation with those communities that have been harmed by racial injustice, and here at Suntree, we have named one of our big ideas in our 4D Vision Plan as “A commitment to reconciliation and bridge-building in our church, our community, and our world, as an expression of the reconciliation we know in Christ and the recognition of the diverse beauty of God’s creation.” We have come so far.

Yet, even in my joy, I know we still have so far to go. We still, today, work to combat forces that harm, hurt, and oppress. We still work to combat the “-isms” that discriminate against others. We still hear stories of those blatantly harmed and discriminated against in our world. Dr. King would still have much to say. 

In that same “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. King spoke of two important concepts: the Beloved Community, and the fierce urgency of now. This Sunday in worship, we will spend time talking about Dr. King’s vision of a Beloved Community. This vision reminds us of the work of Fred Rogers. They both invited us to imagine that in our own lives, our neighborhoods, our worlds, we could build places where everyone has a fair shot, everyone is loved, included, seen for all of their beauty in all of their differences. 

The second concept that I was reminded of is the fierce urgency of now. In that same speech, Dr. King said, “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off... Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Dr. King and Fred Rogers believed in the fierce urgency of now: that together, we can make the world a better place today. Together, we can build that kingdom here, that neighborhood here, where Dr. King’s dream is realized and the promises of our ministry of reconciliation are in our hands. Together, as we will hear from our scripture this weekend, we can join Paul in the ministry of reconciliation, given to us by our reconciliation in Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 5) 

This is tough work. It is painful work. It requires us admitting some of our own shortcomings. But it is also work that is important, vital, and urgent. It is work we have committed to in our 4D Vision plan. It is work that we name in our vision as uncomfortable, but crucial. It is work you have already begun. I look forward to joining that work with you, and to sharing in it this Sunday.

Christ’s peace,
Pastor Allee

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