Lent 2015 In the six months following the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, many of us have struggled to understand what we see on television, in newspapers, and through social media and the internet. Not reported or highlighted, is the involvement of churches and […]
Reflections from the General Minister and President, Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of the National Council of Churches’ 37 member communions and therefore this act of evil strikes close to home. When first reports emerged on Sunday, February 15, Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC Associate General Secretary, contacted Bishop Serapion of the Diocese of Los Angeles of the Coptic Orthodox Church and […]Read more
This blog was written for Lexington Theological Seminary’s Ministry Life Choices Initiative and published Jan. 28, 2015 The first time I recognized the lag was some time into pastoring my first congregation. The sermons were getting harder to germinate. The typical grousing of a family church – where the families did not always get along – […]Read more
Boy, do I need Advent this year! I need a respite from the commercial “Christmas season” where the sacred and the secular collide and stay awkwardly entangled for weeks – where good will and generosity struggle with crass consumerism – where the birth of love into the world is reduced to “Jingle Bells”… My soul […]Read more
Maya Angelou once said, “Prejudice is a burden which confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible.” As I pray, write and think about Ferguson, I, like many of you, am searching for words and thoughts that name our sin, and also serve to enter on the way toward wholeness in a […]Read more
Note: Dr. Watkins shared the following during a Sept. 3, 2014, press conference in support of a letter sent to President Barack Obama by faith leaders. The letter urges the President to protect unaccompanied children and families in any executive action on immigration. Read the letter A retired pastor, whose son works border patrol in […]Read more
Seventy-four. It’s a big number. It is the number of school shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary where over 20 little bodies were torn apart by bullets. There have been other shootings in other places along the way, making the number of dead much, much higher than a mere 74. Included of course, is the man who was “carrying,” who pulled his weapon and was shot dead himself last week in Las Vegas. Included, as well, are the uncounted, unnamed people, mostly in our cities, who are targeted or caught in the cross-fire of our violent culture.Read more
I’d like to introduce you to some of our partners – brothers and sisters in Christ – who I had the pleasure of meeting in Cuba.
Meet Mercedes of the Presbyterian Church of the Resurrection. Eighty some years old and still going strong. She’s always been strong. After the Cuban Revolution many pastors fled – or were forced – from the country. At her church in the city now called Juan Gualberto Gomez, she was the only one left. A leader from the seminary came through and asked her, “Do you want to close the church?” She answered, “Close the church! Of course not. I’m here. We’ll build the church!” And she has. Today there is a small but thriving congregation there providing spiritual nurture and meeting physical needs of poor people in the town. Mercedes makes clear in word and deed: Christians serve a God of resurrection and of life.Read more
(Praying and worshiping with Disciples international mission partners is one of the privileges of serving as General Minister and President. Recently that opportunity came in Cuba when Brite Divinity School, as part of a course, sponsored a visit to the island to study pastoral care. Rick Lowery and I tagged along.)
We were nearing the end of worship on this Sunday in Havana. Global Ministries missionary and church history scholar Dr. Carmelo Alvarez called me up to the front of the church. We were going to participate in a tradition, he said – a tradition of reconciliation. Citizens of Cuba and the United States have much to forgive. Christians of every nation, however, have confidence that God’s power through Jesus Christ to reconcile is stronger than what lies between us. And so we prayed.Read more
My assignment was to talk about interreligious engagement. It didn’t seem too difficult a topic given the recent shooting in Kansas City. The interconnections between Christians and Jews would be obvious. The shooter had meant to kill Jews but unintentionally had targeted Christians, showing that we’re all in this life together. Hate hurts all of […]Read more