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Showing posts from October, 2013

On No Longer Being Young

Last night at the North American Regional Meeting, a couple of "youth" were invited to speak to kick off the discussion. There is a line between tokenizing and fetishizing young people's voices, and genuinely holding up their leadership. Let's be clear, the church is usually behind other social institutions in giving young people real responsibilities and taking them seriously. There is also a line where a young adult is no longer a youth, and a 30-something is no longer a young adult. I'm not 100% clear where the line was last night. Adele, one of my colleagues in the United Church of Canada, who is about my age and with whom I have been traveling these international waters since 2001 and the UN World Conference Against Racism, admitted to having a small crisis last night about our no longer being youth. (I tend to be resigned to my fate, jaded, instead of being struck by crises.) She was a delegate to the 1998 assembly in Harare. In 2001 with the World Con

Community Bookends: Day 2, WCC GA

I wore black today.   Today began and ended with community. I had breakfast with friends Mary, Dwight, HyeYoung, Kurt, and baby Sahn, which was pure delight. I don't get to see Mary and Dwight that often, which is mostly my fault, as I haven't been to Hawaii since their wedding in 2007. Here is Mary emmo with Sahn Sahn with his dad Kurt (please note Halloween costume...) I headed over to Bexco and found my Bible study room assignment (yes, this does mean I didn't make it to morning prayer... breakfast won!). I ended up in Bible study with the Young Adult Volunteers and Julia Brown-Karimu, who directs the Division of Overseas Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Of course, it's just easier to go to Korea than see people in the U.S... We did Bible study... It was remarkable mostly for the fact that it ended up being a good small group, with vigorous discussion. I snuck in some of Ted Hiebert's (McCormick professor and

Eating and Not Sleeping Enough: Day 1 - WCC GA

I'm so tired. Right now, it's 10:27 am at my office. I had planned to send a message early in their morning, but I just got back to the hotel. Here's the day's round-up: Linda Valentine, the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, invited me to come along for breakfast with the four Young Adult Volunteers serving in Korea with the Presbyterian Church (USA), and their site coordinators. The site coordinators, Kurt Esslinger and HyeYoung Lee, are friends of mine from seminary. I got to spend some quality time with their son, Sahn, who I met (outside the womb, in person) for the first time. I enjoyed meeting the young adult volunteers, and also enjoyed finding out that the hotel buffet has special plates for kids - Hello Kitty tray-style plates. My nieces would love that. I was determined to take the subway, in part because the shuttles between the hotels and Bexco, the venue, get very crowded, but also because I have a strong streak of indep

Exhilaration, Hope... and a Tiny Meltdown

I'm so done. It was a lovely morning. I was up and ready to go for the second day of the women's and men's pre-assembly. We began with morning prayer, and then had Bible study. Here is my Bible study group. We then moved into reports back from yesterday's separate meetings of men and women. This was the best part of the day. The women, we had a good day yesterday. But the men had prepared a whole statement. I think there were only a few North American men and European men - the majority were men from the global South. It was an amazing statement: about the gratitude men felt to be in solidarity with women, for their own commitments to continue to work for gender justice, their own understanding of how the construction of masculinity in many cultures means many of their brothers face homophobia and hatred, and confessing their fear of the repercussions they would face for being in solidarity with women and changing their own behaviors. I know I'm not wr

Women's and Men's Pre-Assembly Event (day 1)

The WCC has a series of pre-assembly events for youth, indigenous peoples, the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, and traditionally for women. I've aged out of the youth, and I have done gender justice stuff before, so I signed up for the women's pre-assembly event. By the final email prior to coming to Busan, it had become the women's and men's pre-assembly event. Now, I have known people to be overly inclusive, so I almost suppressed an eye-roll, until I looked at the agenda. Awesome. This became an event on gender, so that men and women had gender-specific breakouts. We as men and women experience and contribute to the gender divide differently, so I think this was a brilliant move. I managed to get on the shuttle after the one I wanted to make (I just couldn't pull myself together in time), and when I got on the shuttle, I saw about five people I knew from other meetings, including the Rev. Hannah Lee of the United Church of Canada (she had attended an

A Note on Korea

This is my second visit to South Korea. The first was in 2005 to visit friends (Irene and Tahir) and travel around a little. I was traveling with Korean speakers (Mary, Irene, and Min, a pastor in Wonju), so it was extra easy to get around. I just came along for the ride, and I loved it. Besides meeting people, going to church (pretty much most of one Sunday), visiting cultural sites (beautiful and incredible - wish I could go back on this trip!), shopping, enjoying the mountains, and spending some time at a spa, there were the little things that made the trip even more enjoyable. Street markets that stay open late into the night, for instance. Fish for breakfast. Noodles and kimpap available on the street. I could easily reach the overhead handles on the subway in Seoul, whereas in D.C. or Chicago or New York, I have a hard time getting up that high. Like most good Presbyterians, and like most who have attended a seminary, I have many friends who are Korean and Korean American. That

Accidents, Privilege and Responsibility

A photo Evie took as we flew into Gimhae Airport in Busan (A note... the inclusion of the names of other Presbyterians in this blog post has not been approved by these Presbyterians, nor do they necessarily share my views or perspectives.) October 25, 2013 It’s 3 am at home, and 4 pm in Busan. Evie Landrau (one of the other PCUSA delegates) and I are on a plane en route to the Republic of Korea. I’m trying to stay up until at least 7 pm Korea time, and then sleep hard the rest of the way, so when we land in the morning I can function. I watched one movie (Thanks, Korean Air! You’re the best!), will write a blog post, and finish writing a book chapter. Evie is awesome, by the way. I hope you get to meet her someday. And those of you in Charlotte should go visit her church! She serves at Caldwell Presbyterian Church. Being one of four delegates is a ginormous privilege. I suppose I could point out that not being a delegate, but being able to pay my own way to one

Journey to Busan

I leave tonight for the 10 th World Council of Churches General Assembly, in Busan, South Korea. I’m consumed with details. I’m leaving the country for over two weeks, and I still haven’t called the bank or checked rates with my cell phone carrier. Thirteen-hour plane rides tend to feel just about five hours too long, so I need a few books. I will have no problem eating or getting what I need in South Korea, but I never did get around to learning hangul. I’m expecting to make lots of mistakes in interpersonal interactions with Christians from other parts of the world. I’ll miss my dogs, my friends, and a bunch of important work meetings. In the midst of just getting stuff done, I’m nervous-excited! I’m nervous because I’m one of the four PC(USA) delegates* to the GA, and I have actual responsibilities. Along with participating in the women’s and men’s pre-assembly event (two days on gender), and Ecumenical Conversation 6 (“Developing effective leadership: contextual ecumenica

Majority Rule - Mixing Faith and Politics

[Apologies to my regular readers: There has been so much to blog about lately that I just gave up. That, plus a lot of travel and other writing projects.] I’m sure you’ve heard about the controversy surrounding the name of the football team in Washington, D.C. You can read a little about it here .  The owner of the team wrote a letter explaining why the name would not be changed here . Majority rule? Yes, because most fans aren’t bothered by the name. Neither are the majority of Native Americans who were polled. Polling evidence was used to shore up the decision to leave the name as is. That, and the long history and legacy of the team and its name are cited as vital to its identity. Activists and even my church (the PCUSA) say using people as mascots, specifically Native American peoples, is dehumanizing and disrespectful. (The 1999 PCUSA policy statement on racism includes a request that the Stated Clerk write a letter to schools and professional teams urging them