We know this because, in many ways, America has been in an emergency long before COVID-19. As the recent protests have brought into the open, there are entire communities that live in constant crisis situations that have been ignored for our entire history. Black people have been saying for decades that police officers were getting away with murder, that drugs and weapons were planted at crime scenes, that police reports weren’t telling the whole truth. If it weren’t for iPhones and pent-up lockdown energy, Americans wouldn’t never have listened, because it gets in the way of our positive outlook on who we are and what we have done.
https://media.mywtenfold1.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/07/21140557/aaron-burden-9C8r4QUwZRQ-unsplash-scaled.jpg17452560Layton Williams/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/NEXT-Logo-FINAL-Horizontal_lato-1030x229.pngLayton Williams2020-07-21 14:06:412020-07-21 18:15:47America’s Optimistic Spirit is Killing Us Because We Don’t Know What Faith Is
When the people who fill our pews (and our clergy too) love the ideals (even as corrupt as they can be) of these yet to be United States more than the ideals of the kingdom of God, how do we reclaim our allegiance not to flags and founding fathers but reclaim our fidelity to a God who already told us that they were jealous, and that idol worship, graven images no matter how noble the human may be is sin against God?
In 1999 the First Presbyterian Church had 193 members. In 2019 the number was 75. This 20-year decline is not much different than what I see elsewhere in our presbytery. However, a church of 500 that drops to 250 can still support a pastor. The Coffeyville church can’t, at least not a seminary trained, ordained, and installed pastor.
I asked if they had ever had conversations with the town 12 miles away, which has a part time PCUSA pastor, about a yoked pastorate. They wondered aloud about what a pastor would do. The pulpit is filled by church members, retired pastors, and commissioned ruling elders, and they – the members and community – do everything else.
Besides all of this, I have been unable to get over the fact that the vast majority of my non-POC “brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus” in the Church have been reticent to speak with a single voice about this enormous and ongoing SIN of racism in America. Because I love Jesus Christ and his body deeply on this planet, I have a bone to pick with the Church in its whiteness. I am both mad and sad.
https://media.mywtenfold1.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/06/04172946/koshu-kunii-Q5sHZ-_lxvE-unsplash-scaled.jpg20482560Layton Williams/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/NEXT-Logo-FINAL-Horizontal_lato-1030x229.pngLayton Williams2020-06-04 17:32:072020-06-04 17:32:07The SHIFT: It’s Time to Make That Change
I think of the disciples and followers gathered in those pre-Pentecost days with a budding sense of the life-altering importance of the resurrection. What did they wonder, experience, fear, and hope in that “not yet” place”? What do we wonder, experience, fear, and hope in our “not yet” place?
https://media.mywtenfold1.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/05/25102612/max-kleinen-lMiYuow_KZE-unsplash-scaled.jpg17092560Layton Williams/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/NEXT-Logo-FINAL-Horizontal_lato-1030x229.pngLayton Williams2020-05-25 10:27:492020-05-25 10:27:49Longing for Stories of Encounter
I suppose as a pastor this is the point where I should make some grand statement about God and providence and salvation, or something. To be honest, though, I have had almost no time to reflect. I’m too in-the-moment and too wired in crisis-brain to have any profound, theologically-robust insight.
https://media.mywtenfold1.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2020/05/04142753/roland-denes-z5DYe8OL_RI-unsplash-scaled.jpg18292560Layton Williams/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2016/01/NEXT-Logo-FINAL-Horizontal_lato-1030x229.pngLayton Williams2020-05-04 14:29:522020-05-04 19:24:24I’m an Asian-American pastor in a Black immigrant church in Queens, NY, sick with COVID-19 and family working in healthcare. Here’s what that’s like.