Monday, February 24, 2014

A Legacy of Service: In Celebration of Black History Month

The year was 1976 and I was attending the Inter-Varsity Urbana Missionary Conference with a group of young adults from my home Bible study group.  It was a time in my life when I was struggling with a call to ministry and trying to decide whether to leave the teaching profession and go to seminary. 

The conference was an amazing panacea of famous speakers such as Dr. Billy Graham and Dr. John Stott.  There was powerful music, numerous workshops and display tables with recruiters from mission organizations all over the world.  In between speakers up on the main stage at this huge coliseum there were mission advertisements that lasted for only a minute or two.  One caught my attention.  A large African American gentleman seemed to have a speech impediment.  He spoke passionately about deaf people in Africa. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Mother’s Eyes

When I was a singer in the Cherub Choir at Lansdowne Methodist Church in 1960 we sang an anthem on Mother’s Day that went something like this:  “My mother’s eyes are watchful eyes that never fail to see where she may find some happiness or gain some good for me.”  That was my mother, the one with the watchful eyes.  For Janie Mae MacLeod Olver family was everything and her vigilant eyes were always looking for ways to bless her family.  God was the only thing more important to Mom than her family.   

Mom graduated third in her high school class academically but she never wanted to go to college or have a career.  Her goal in life was to raise a family!  She married at the age of 19 and only worked outside of the home in order to earn money to help with bills and see that my sister and I went to college.  Her career as a school secretary was ideal for a mother with small children who attended the same school.  It was handy to have mother downstairs in the school office if you ran out of lunch money or got sick.  We would walk home together when there was an early dismissal because of snow.  The day I graduated from college she quit her job working as a school secretary.  Before she retired she coaxed the principal she worked for into putting in a good word for both of her daughters when they were applying for teaching positions in the Baltimore County Public School system.  We were both hired.   

Mom spent the next 10 years of her life taking care of her aging parents and Dad’s aging siblings and then came the grand-children.  Never was there a grandmother like my mother.  She spent many, many days watching the children and taking them on exciting trips and buying toys and clothes.  She was always looking with her blue eyes for things that they would enjoy reading and lavished on them countless interesting picture books.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Finding Hope on a Mission of Peace

I experienced a remarkable, dual cultural immersion during my recent visit to South Africa. I accompanied 18 United Methodist youth from nine regional conferences across our Northeastern Jurisdiction (NEJ). The goals of our Mission of Peace, lasting from December 28 to January 15, was to broaden our cultural awareness, build bonds of peace among diverse peoples and learn about the vital mission of the church in the world.  Truly our mission was about making disciples and seeking transformation.
Three of the impressive high school-age youth on this adventure were from our Eastern Pennsylvania Conference: Madeleine Devitis, Adrienne Newcomer and Mia Sanchez.  I was one of four adult chaperones, representing the NEJ College of Bishops.  And while this journey drew me more deeply into the well of my own Christian faith, it also gave me a double immersion—brief but meaningful-- into the culture of young people and the culture of South Africa.

The Power of Immersion

My experience with youth culture was inspiring.  Our young people are spirit-filled, curious, passionate about social justice, and immersed in social media.  They sang, prayed, preached, befriended and encouraged one another throughout the trip.  I also enjoyed watching them interact with the youth of South Africa.