Funny that my last post was about protesting and messages of hate.
Why you ask? Why, friend–let me tell you.
It is currently fall break at Duke Divinity School, which is glorious. And much needed. I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night. But it’s currently 3:40am, I just finished a paper, and I’ve hit that second wind. And did I mention I have a meeting at 9am? Maybe fall break isn’t so different from the rest of the semester. I digress, obviously. My sincerest apologies for all grammatical errors and lack of coherence in this post.
So it’s fall break and my mom was in Charlotte for her work this week, which gave me the perfect excuse to get out of Durham and visit my mom, cousin, former coworkers, and friends in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area.
To say it was eventful would be an understatement. The lovely Narcie recruited me to speak at St. John’s UMC about the Winthrop Wesley Foundation. No big deal, right? Of course not. So I show up at St. John’s UMC in Fort Mill, SC. The church that I attended from 2008-2010 and the one where Narcie preaches every Sunday. They’re having some dinner gathering and all kinds of people are hugging me and greeting me and are totally surprised to see me. Narcie’s car wasn’t in the parking lot and I don’t see her anywhere. It’s 6:10 and I’m supposed to speak at 6:15. My church friends say they’re waiting for the pastor to come down and bless the food, so I have a few minutes to spare. Miraculously, Narcie calls me and asks where I’m at. I’m supposed to be at St. John’s UMC in Rock Hill. The one where Narcie’s dad was the senior pastor for many years. Not the one in Fort Mill. Oh crap. I frantically drive to Rock Hill, show up 15 minutes late, and am greeted by a whole load of wonderful people. It was great to see my Winthrop Wesley friends again, especially since I was at the right church this time. I guess living in North Carolina for a whopping 2 months has been 2 months too long. I still can’t believe I confused the churches. Oh my oh my.
Well, that was quite the unrelated tangent. Back to my story. So I basically crashed Narcie’s (prep before she takes 14 college students to New York City for a seminar on human trafficking) day and pretty much spent all day with her. Some things never change.
So we go out to lunch (well, actually I already had eaten lunch with some of my former Alternative Spring Break kiddos so it was dessert for me) and we head back to campus…only to see a massive swarm of people. There were guys slamming their Bibles and students waving gay pride flags. We really had no idea what was going on.
It turns out that once a year (though they hadn’t made it in the 2 years I was employed at Winthrop), these traveling preachers show up on campus and preach words of hate. And what I understand–which is derived entirely from students’ facebook statuses and may or may not be correct–is that the GLBTQ pride group decided to protest the protestors.
I definitely didn’t want to be immersed in such words of hatred, especially coming from “Christians.” Now, I’m not saying these Bible slamming preachers are not Christians….but their understanding of Christianity is totally different from my own. And these weren’t just words of hatred against homosexuality. They protested abortion, fornication, drinking alcohol, the liberal agenda. Oh yeah, and even liberal arts education. I’m not sure where in the Bible it is mentioned that a well-rounded education is the devil’s plan. Apparently I need to do more research. [I hope my sarcasm is evident.]
I will never be able to understand why some Christians preach hatred and embrace ignorance. But I’m grateful that God is a God of justice, grace, and love. As someone who was incredibly involved with the campus ministries at Winthrop–both from a professional perspective and from a volunteer angle–I can honestly account for the wonderful ministries that are involved in the lives of students and serve as a place of love and peace for them.
I can’t understand why we don’t just stop spewing out words of hate and start spreading words of love. I know there are a lot of things that people don’t necessarily agree with, but what happened to loving your neighbor as yourself? I’m going to embrace that commandment. My prayer is that all who were involved will too.
P.S. Remember the church that I mentioned in my last post–the one infamous for protesting at anything and everything? Well coincidentally my mother told me that they protested at my rival high school a few weeks ago. A public high school in rural southwestern Pennsylvania. One that even takes its name after the Trinity. When asked why they were there, they had no reason. They said they can protest anywhere.
Let’s not forget the value of a loving, respectful, and honest conversation. Words of hate are only meant to cause harm and pain. I know I’ve only been a theology student for 2 months, but I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to be loving and not hateful.
May we all show love and grace to those we encounter. And may we remember that all of us–no matter our faults or the way we choose to live our lives–are children of a loving, awesome, and wonderful God.