May was not the month I expected or hoped for. Personally, illness and injuries plagued my family, so I had to cancel some of my planned visits and meetings this month.
However, it was the violence that ripped through communities which broke me, again. Milwaukee. Buffalo. Galena, California. Uvalde, Texas. A culture of violence that is shaped by white supremacy, toxic forms of masculinity, power and greed, and loud voices willing to point the finger and lay blame but not willing to compromise and work together. We’re all tired of this, and the lack of political will to end gun violence.
I’m thankful for the witness of our pastors and churches this past week, from sharing prayers and ringing church bells in solidarity with the community of Uvalde, to attending the community prayer vigils with calls to action in Milwaukee and Madison. It encouraged me to see familiar faces when I attended the vigil in Milwaukee, to know that our American Baptist family care about the most vulnerable among us.
That movement of solidarity and call to action gives us comfort. But what gives us hope in times of such despair?
For me, I am encouraged by what I see in our churches. Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Madison partners with Anesis Family Therapy. They provide free drop-in mental health services every Tuesday and Thursday. First Baptist Church in Kenosha is partnering with a mobile mental health services unit that will provide drug treatment and mental health care from their church parking lot in the mornings. Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church in Milwaukee has a community garden, growing vegetables for the neighborhood and planning a peace walk path in the garden. Greater Galilee Baptist Church’s Greater Life Community Center continues to make a difference in their neighborhood and beyond with several organizations partnering to provide counseling, dance, martial arts, health care, and much more to the community.
When I hear and see and experience these stories, I know that the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in our churches in how they engage and impact the community around them, sharing Christ’s love in real, tangible ways.
I have hope because God is bringing forth life in a world of violence and death, and God is doing it through our churches here in Wisconsin. No matter the size of a congregation or budget, God needs us, all of us, in order to build the beloved community on earth as it is in heaven. I know that the Spirit is moving in ways of discernment, dreaming, and idea-sharing of what God is calling you to do, and who God is calling you to be. We all have gifts to share God’s love, and we can partner with each other to share our resources, our time and talents, and together be the change we need to see in our world, as the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin.
With you on the journey of faith,
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell