“I can’t breathe.”
Lord, what do You want Your church to do with this?
I can rant, or lament. I can riot or protest. Do you know the differences? A rant is not an invitation to others to come to the table for discussion. A rant is an opportunity to vent, which may feel therapeutic to you, but is generally not healing to others.
A lament, on the other hand, needs to be our first response in this chaos. Biblical lament is passionately expressing grief, anger, loss, but not as a diary entry to myself. Biblical lament is an opportunity to bring all these feelings to God – I can mull them over with God, rather than merely mulling these feelings over with myself. Lamenting is being aware that God is listening, or at least longs for His felt presence. Lament names the feelings, pays attention to the situation (context and meaning) and it brings all this to the God-table, where brothers and sisters in Christ receive you. They are invited to join the lament. Together we ask our Father to begin to help us through it…
I have chosen to lament for George Floyd, the 46-year-old man who died a senseless, disgusting, tragic, inhumane death. Father, I am struggling not to hate the police officer who perpetrated this crime, and the other 3 officers who did not intervene. I soul-ache for George’s family who have lost him over an alleged fake $20 bill – is that really the price of his life? I am scared for US cities in turmoil where over 40 cities are now under curfew and over 25 have called in the National Guard in order to “keep the peace”. And lest I feel self-righteously absolved from this “American problem”, I acknowledge that this ugliness is in Canada too. Systemic racism exists here too – it always has. Colonialism and white privilege, I am genetically connected to both. Oh Lord, what can I do be a person of peace and healing? Where is Your Church Jesus? What can we do?
Lament doesn’t have answers like rants seem to. Lament is not a carefully thought through opinion. It is feeling, experience, and observation. It is generally raw, and unresolved. To lament is to cry out to God, but not alone, as we cry out with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What about the difference between rioting and protesting? Perhaps, riot is to protest, what rant is to lament? I chose lament and protest (or the more Kingdom idea, “holy love”).
I believe that as a good Canadian, it is acceptable to exercise my right to peaceful protest. I support the peaceful protesters around the world that are voicing “black lives matter”. And for the record I acknowledge the trauma, pain and anger that the rioters must be experiencing, who feel that they have no other choice but to fight violence with violence. I understand that this ugliness in the US is as old (and older) than the US itself. Friends of mine have used words like “boiling point”, “pressure cooker”, “explosive” about the riots. I do not condone violence, and agree with Terrance Floyd (George’s brother) that violence is not the solution.
But before I am a Canadian, I am first of all a citizen of the Kingdom. My Kingdom citizenship informs my Canadian citizenship. In so many ways it should make me a better Canadian. Though protesting is not wrong, I wonder if Kingdom has a better counter-cultural expression? It does. Holy love. This is how John Wesley understood our opportunity and responsibility in Christ. For Wesley it is “neither love without holiness, nor holiness without love” (Kenneth Collins’ The Theology of John Wesley, 22). Holy love is not an idea, it is action. It is counter-cultural. It is how we as Wesleyans are to approach discipleship (remember that in our working definition of discipleship, evangelism is included) and our mission. For John Wesley holy love was about creating schools, free medical clinics, jobs, shelters, etc. For early Free Methodists it was standing against slavery, starting a farming union, dealing with socio-economic disparity, injustices and more. The question for citizens of the Kingdom who happen to be Canadian, is how do we “holy love” in this time?
On Thursday of this week I will be interviewing two Canadian leaders. I will be asking them about holy love as our response…
Church Health Thursdays – Timely Questions: https://fmcic.ca/timely-questions/
News & Stories Blog – Bishop Cliff Chats with Addison Aspilla: https://fmcic.ca/bishop-cliff-chats-with-addison-aspilla/
the conneXion – a Free Methodist theology blog: 3 Minute Theology 2.5: Knowing the Bible Inside Out: https://fmcic.ca/3-minute-theology-2-5-knowing-the-bible-inside-out/
New Leaf Network: The 2019 New Leaf Advent Reader – : https://www.newleafnetwindork.ca/podcast/
FM VIDEOS: https://fmcic.ca/category/fm-video-blog/
None at this time
ORDINATION AND COMMISSIONING SERVICES
Leonard Bruce – Warkworth, ON – ordination service date TBA
Dani Harris – The Corner Church, Oshawa, ON – ordination service date TBA
Douglas Smith – Fellowship of Joy, St. Williams, ON – ordination service date TBA
FOUNDATIONAL COURSES https://fmcic.ca/foundational-courses/
Register online through the link above
Lay Ministers tracking for credentialed ministry and those transferring ordination credentials into the FMCIC need to take the following two courses for full credit – and if possible, the Heart course first and then Wesleyan Theology.
Heart of Canadian Free Methodism:
June 5-6, 2020 – due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this course will be taught live via Zoom with a modified schedule (details will be sent to those who register prior to the course)
November 6-8, 2020 – location TBA*
November 6-8, 2020 – Ontario location TBA*
(also available online through FMC-USA: http://fmcusa.org/leadership/courses/)
Ministerial Candidates tracking for Commissioned or Ordained Minister are required to take the following two courses for full credit. Those who are already commissioned or ordained are required to either audit these two courses for 1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) each or take the two courses and complete the assignments for 3 CEUs each.
Culture and the Missional Church:
Course starts October 13 (deadline to register – October 5)
Part One: Oct 13-Nov 5 – advance online engagement
Part Two: Nov 6-7 – two-day in-person class – Trulls Road FMC, Courtice, ON
Personal and Church Stewardship: (NOTE: TUITION WAIVED FOR THIS ONLINE COURSE)
5-week online course (ENGLISH) – start date – June 1, 2020
(Note: this class is now full. We are creating a waiting list and if there are enough people, we may consider offering this tuition-free online course again in the early fall. Please register to put your name on the waiting list.)
(* These course locations are selected based on where the majority of the participants reside – so please register early! Note: Tuition payment is not required when registering for a course. Payment is due 10 days before the course begins.)
2020 SCHOLARSHIPS https://fmcic.ca/scholarships/
October 15 is the deadline to apply for the Leadership Scholarship Plan (LSP) for any courses taken during the summer and/or fall semesters of 2020. The 2020 application forms and instructions are now available to download from the link above.
October 15 is the deadline to apply for the annual Special Scholarships for courses taken during 2020 – apply online from the link above.
CONTINUING EDUCATION UNITS (CEUs) https://fmcic.ca/introduction-to-continuing-education/
Ordained and Commissioned Ministers (except retirees) are to annually report Continuing Education Units (CEUs) acquired during each year. Check the link above for information on CEUs, the report form and a list of examples of many different types of life-long learning that can be applied as CEUs.
Note: For those who attend the fall Minister’s Conferences or the spring Regional Gatherings, add 6 hours of CEU credit for each event when you send in your annual CEU report.
CHURCHES IN TRANSITION
Lakeland Community Church, Spiritwood, SK
Queensway FMC, Niagara Falls, ON
Church Profiles available
Contact Davika Dotson in the Leadership Development Office to request a church profile – [email protected] or 416-240-7845 (deadline to apply in brackets)
None at this time
(If you are interested in seeing the profile for any of these churches, please contact Davika in the Leadership Development Office [see above] and the profile will be emailed to you as soon as it becomes available.)
Campbellford FMC, Campbellford, ON
Cedar Street Community Church, Simcoe, ON
Cornerstone FMC, Prince Albert, SK
First FM Church, New Westminster, BC (Rev. Vern Frudd – Transition Pastor)
New Hope FMC, Bracebridge, ON
Pineview FMC, Cloyne, ON
Richmond Hill Chinese & English FM Churches, Richmond Hill, ON (Rev. Louis Leung – Interim Pastor)
Smiths Falls FMC, Smiths Falls, ON (Rev. Aaron Birtch – Transition Pastor)
Trinity Christian Centre, Dresden, ON
Whitby FMC, Whitby, ON (Rev. Vic Stonehouse-Transition Pastor)