THIS WEEKEND IN WORSHIP 

June 13 @ 5pm or June 14 @ 9:30am and/or June 14 @ 11am

It is sometimes called the other Independence Day. This week in the 5:00 and 9:30 worship services we will talk about Juneteenth and freedom. There will be an interview with Mr. Dewhitt Bingham, who will share with us his perspectives on being a Christian and an African American during these times You can find the full interview on the Church website, which lasts about 30 minutes. We will see about 10 minutes of that in the worship service. The Scripture focus for this service is the words of Jesus (reading from the Prophet Isaiah) in Luke 4:18-19.

In the 11:00 worship option, we will talk about how to grow into the life God has in mind for you. Specifically this week we will talk about letting others help you grow in faith.  Scriptures for that service include Romans 12:4-6 and Hebrews 10:24-25.

I look forward to worshiping with you, still online for a few more weeks.

What follows are the heart-felt reflections of three people who have been thinking about the death of Mr. George Floyd and where we are as a people. Suzanne Montoya is Deputy Director of Court Services, in charge of Juvenile Court Services (Juvenile Probation) for McLean County. She is the daughter of John and Marilyn Freese. Jacques (J.D.) Montoya is the son of Suzanne and Antonio Montoya. He graduated this year from Normal Community High School and will be enlisting in the United States Air Force Reserves this summer, completing basic training and military schooling before beginning his college studies next year. Ellen Tingley has lived in various places over the years and has always been involved in mission work and helping others.

I want to thank Suzanne and Jacques Montoya and Ellen Tingley for sharing these thoughts with us. Instead of reading to decide what you like or disagree with, please read with the goal of seeking what you can learn.

REFLECTIONS FROM SUZANNE MONTOYA

Dear America,

WE need to do better. I am writing as a white woman of privilege. I cannot and every other white American cannot understand what it means to be black in America. It is selfish and ignorant to be upset when people chant, Black Lives Matter. Do you not understand that they are not saying all lives don’t matter or blue lives don’t matter; they are saying Black Lives Matter because in America they never have!? We cannot kid our white selves into not seeing the deep-seated racism that has been ingrained in America for over 400 years. That is what black people are saying when they say, Black Lives Matter—because from the establishment of this country-their lives did not matter. We know white lives matter, as they always have in America, white people have always been the power structure in this country. We have never had to fight to prove that.

I am hopeful that white people will actually take time to reflect on this national crisis, and that yes, it is STILL hard to be black in America. When a 3 year old child asks “Mommy, are the police going to kill my Daddy?” WE must do better. WE have to do better. There is NO other option at this point. Have you ever had someone question your hairstyle, and insinuate you were making a racial statement? How about having to educate your children on how to act when they are pulled over by a police officer? How about being told you are a “token minority” at the company you are employed; not acknowledged as an excellent worker with extreme capabilities? Above all, how would you FEEL if you did experience that? Would you trade your whiteness to have to deal with that type of discrimination daily? If you silently answered “no,” there lies the problem and that should demonstrate to you that all lives are not equal. Action requires empathy. Take time to educate yourselves.

This is not just a law enforcement issue; this is a national issue (a global issue). I have many law enforcement friends. I commend them for being employed in a job that is many days thankless, and for putting their lives on the line for their community. Many law enforcement officers are also deeply saddened and enraged at what has continuously happened at the hands of some in their profession.

WE need to assist black people so that their voice is heard to change this systematic and inherit racism. This is our time white people, to help our black communities; let’s take a stand! Black people have been fighting for 400 years. We need to be REAL allies at this point. Enough is enough. DO better. Let’s stand in solidarity. Be a voice for our friends and family in the black community.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends-MLK.”

With peace, love and blessings for ALL,

A white woman

REFLECTIONS FROM JACQUES DELAYNE MONTOYA (18)

1. How have you been affected by the killing of Mr. George Floyd on Memorial Day?

I have been affected in many more ways than not. For starters, many people can tell by sight that I am not white. At least I am not fully white. This tends to do a great number when pulled over by the police or just by hanging with friends at a park. I see this killing as another way for the white man to use the corrupt system as a cushion to support his fall. George Floyd is not the first African-American man we have seen be killed by the police and I’m more then sure he will not be the last. You have instances like this that reach all the way back, 50 years and so on. It’s a cycle that needs to be stopped because if it does not stop. Then, America will perish and go down as a country that is too weak to support itself. 

2. Would you mind talking about any forms of racism you experience?

As I’ve said before, I am not fully white, nor am I fully black. Yet, I still am black and people tend to notice that regardless of how light my skin color is. As a “mulatto” in this country, it is very very hard to find a place where you fit best. I was on my high school basketball team a few years ago and I am not the greatest basketball player, but I am better then some. I figured I would get to play lots of minutes just like I did in middle school, except I came to realize that my middle school basketball coach was Hispanic and my high school basketball coach was white. The first tournament we had, I played in both games and I had a decent amount of minutes. After the tournament was over, we headed home and everything was fine. Next, was our home game and my parents showed up of course to support. I was thinking I was going to get to play again, but my coach didn’t put me in at all. Granted the majority of the team was white, besides me and my black friend. My father was a little hurt by this and he confronted my coach about why I wasn’t put in. My coach looked my father up and down and said that my “ball handling skills were not up to par.” My father just laughed so he wouldn’t make a scene and he left. We talked about what he meant by that, because my father and I had practiced dribbling and ball handling for months in the summer before the season started. I could ball handle better then anyone in my position. We decided to wait it out and see if anything would change but it didn’t. Ever since that day my father asked him that question, I never saw another minute on the court. At the end of the season, my coach pulled me aside and tried to apologize for not playing me. He said I had some of the best talent he’d seen and he realized that he had messed up. He tried to apologize multiple times after that. And all I could say was “It’s ok” because I knew those words did not mean anything, since I did not get the chance or opportunity I deserved. That entire season, the starting line up was full of white kids and only white kids who didn’t understand their privilege 

3. Is there anyone you think we need to be listening to that we have not been hearing?

I believe that it’s ultimately up to the white citizens of America that are not racist to stand up and talk. Their words can move mountains and their words can be the change we need. Black lives can talk and use force, but no one will listen to them. They’re still black, yet these people are white. It’s a different approach to something stronger. 

4. What has been your reaction to the many different forms of protest and response that may have come after Mr. Floyd’s death?

This gruesome video was the last straw for many African-Americans living in America and other places. I understand their pent up aggression and hate because African-Americans have faced inequality for 400 years or so. It wasn’t very much longer for them to sit back and let the timeline continue. There is a quote by MLK that I think you will understand once you truly think about it, and you can see how these African-Americans are embodying it. The quote says, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” 

5. What are you hoping will happen as a result of the protests?

I hope that America will see that people have a voice and that voice can be much stronger than they believe. That voice can bring many more people together until the injustice is served and the justice is granted to all. 

6. What would you recommend parents say or do with their kids right now?

Explain the truth to them, if they are mixed or black children. Explain to them that their lives will be hard and that there will always be some form of racism whether they like it or not. This is what my father did for me. 

7. Is there anything else you want to say to our congregation?

We should not have thoughts that we are better than one another based off of the color of our skin. The color of our skin should not dictate whether or not we are dead or alive. We do not choose the color of our skin. we are blessed with it. The Lord has put all of us here, regardless of what we look like. We are brothers and sisters, we are the children of the highest power. We should embrace our gifts and spread love like the Lord would want. Let’s stop thinking one is stronger then the other, and start believing that the Lord is the strongest. I believe that this is the way. 

REFLECTIONS FROM ELLEN TINGLEY

I am an 84 year old white woman and the following words are mine and mine alone.

Last week at the end of our Bible Study our minister said, “Maybe it’s time we listened”. I wasn’t terribly impressed with this statement but could not get it out of my mind.

All week I have been LISTENING. I watched a video of Lisa Sharon Harper and Jan Hatmaker talking to each other about racism. Lisa is black and Sharon is white. Then I watched another video of a black woman talk. She said everything we say is about US.  She was tired of hearing about US.

Then I watched George Floyd’s funeral on television. Yesterday I watched our minister talk to a black couple about what they had experienced here in Bloomington-Normal. Last night I watched Oprah talk to a panel of black people. 

As I have watched all these programs I began to feel uncomfortable and did not like what I was feeling. I did not like what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

The other day when Rev. Sharpton spoke at George Floyd’s funeral I got the feeling he was going to be trouble. Then I realized I REALLY AM RACIST. 

Oh, I had never really thought of myself as a racist. I have no bad feeling toward black people. I have had good friends that are black. But if I’m honest with myself I have lived a WHITE PRIVILEGED life. I have never been afraid of being stopped by the police. I never worry when I walk into a store that someone will be watching to be sure I don’t steal something. My children were always accepted anywhere I took them. I never had to talk to my son about how to act if he were ever stopped by a policeman.

I cannot imagine living in fear like so many of the people I listened to this week describe. Not because they DID anything but just because their skin was brown or black. Without realizing it I was a free white female and did not like the idea that anyone could make me feel uncomfortable

Oprah’s program had good information from several people. On one of the breaks from speaking with the panel she ran video’s of several different Presidents trying to correct our racial problems in the United States. When I thought about what they did it seems to me they tried to change the Black people. What they should of done was change the White people’s attitude. 

Pastor Kent

OUTDOOR CONCERT – SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 6PM

A concert @ Normal First! Really?! Yes!! The string ensemble “…and Friends” (now known as Anti-Viral Musicians Collective) will delight us with music from our outdoor Prayer Garden. Bring a lawn chair (at a distance) and wear your mask or listen from your car in our parking lot. Donations gladly accepted. Ahhh…how wonderful it will be to hear these fine musicians once again. In the case of inclement weather, the concert will be rescheduled.

This Weekend in Worship – June 13 & 14, 2020