“All of us are being called beyond those comfortable places where it’s easy to be Christian. That’s the key for the 21st century…we can learn to play on locked pianos and to dream of worlds that do not yet exist.” -Vincent Harding, 1931-2014
This year in Adult Forum, we have sojourned together in exciting ways, and it’s been an honor to be able to walk alongside you in the journey.
We established covenants for relating with each other and got reacquainted, thinking about who WE are (in 6 words) – and reading parts of memoirs of Christians from across many different ages and worlds.
We learned about the intersection of race and queer theology, reading Patrick Cheng’s Rainbow Theology with Haeman.
We dove into Advent season with Bob Robinson, and then brought in the voices of modern-day prophets like Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr into the room – and started to consider our own prophetic ministry as a congregation and as individuals.
Then in February, with Delilah’s series on African American history in the UCC, we heard the names, stories and looked into the faces of ordinary, extraordinary people who have bravely shaped our denomination into an (ever-evolving) multiracial, multicultural reality.
In March we heard from those involved most intimately with Old First’s justice and outreach programs – the shelter, service camps, POWER, and the cupboard – and talked about where we are strongest, and where we may be missing the mark.
And then to finish, we watched a powerful documentary – Traces of the Trade – that has opened up even more sensitive and important conversations about race, history, and our faith that we have just barely scratched the surface of.
This week, we will remember moments from Adult Forum throughout the year and appreciate where we have come.
It’s a year where we have opened up about our identities and our values and who we really are, past the cordial conversations over coffee, or the passing of the peace. And now that we’ve opened those places, we know that we are just at the beginning of a longer – and hopeful – journey that if we travel it, is going to take work and courage.
This is not a surprise to those who have been in recent Forums, but for those who have not been: interest is growing in hosting a “Sacred Conversation on Race” at Old First, an initiative that could look like many things depending how people want to move forward with it.
There is no doubt that all of our forums this year, in some way, have touched on issues of race and class. They have done so, admittedly, because it is what I am often most interested in bringing to the surface. But they have also dealt with these issues because they are parts of our identities and are inextricable from our spirituality, with our experience of the every day, and with our hopes, our dreams, and deepest wounds.
Nonetheless, with just 45 minutes before church, there is only so far we can go with something as big and wide as race and class. So in addition to looking back on the year, on Sunday we will choose the first next steps in organizing an intentional process of bringing a larger dialogue about race (and other issues of identity?) to Old First next year.
This week’s session – our last before the summer break – is open to all. Join us at 10AM to look back, and imagine forward about where we are being called to learn, grow, laugh, grieve and be enraged together.
Thank you for letting me be a part of the Old First community in this way this year. I believe that as the late Dr. Harding said, we are learning to play on locked pianos. I know certainly that I am.