Since arriving here as your presbytery leader, learning your sacred stories, who you are, and the circumstances that have shaped you, I continue to hear about the 2018 trip that several of you took to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
I myself can testify to the power of that experience: how it can bring people together and mobilize concreate action. When I served on the Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation for the PCUSA, our first in-person meeting as a committee in 2018 was in Montgomery, AL, visiting the museum and memorial, experiencing what you experienced, connecting the dots to just how close our history is to shaping the present, clarifying the importance of our work and the work of all who strive to build God’s kin-dom. Just how this experience for you laid the foundation for the Apology to African Americans for the Sin of Slavery and its Legacy, this same experience shaped our committee for the Final Report and Recommendations of the Special Committee on Racism Truth and Reconciliation for the PCUSA. It should be of little surprise how much these two reports reinforce each other!
This experience is so sacred that the Association for Mid Council Leaders and Stated Clerks are hosting a trip of their own to the same site this week, available to all actively serving presbytery leaders and Stated Clerks in the PC(USA). As an expression of our dedication to addressing Racism and White Supremacy in ourselves, our communities, and alongside you in partnership and solidarity, all three of your eligible presbytery leaders are attending this trip: Joy Myers as Stated Clerk, Liz Kanerva as Associate Presbytery Leader, and myself as Presbytery Leader, with financial sponsorship from the Synod of Mid America.
This is from the program description:
“This will not be a trip but an immersive experience for mid council leaders who want to take bolder steps toward becoming better anti-racists “back home.” At the end of the pilgrimage, participants will be asked to create and commit to their own action plan that includes a few, next, best steps. These action plans will be self-created, individualized and contextualized. They won’t be perfect, but they will be tangible, measurable and meaningful.”
It is important to be intentional about these kinds of experiences, not just for shaping our professional selves, but our personal selves. This is a reminder that our work involves not just our minds, and our spiritual selves, but also our bodies. We hope this experience can bring us closer to you and your work as we tend to our own living histories. We want to preach with conviction, but we also want to model what we preach as well.
As a staff, we welcome your prayers for safe travels, for open eyes and receiving hearts, for clarity of mind and purpose, for renewed commitment for truly seeing each other and those who we serve in partnership together. We hope to come back grounded, alert, and resolved in our common purpose.
We look forward to sharing more on the other side!
In this together,
Rev. Ryan J. Landino
Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy
I appreciate the opportunity to work on our professional development. I will have limited phone, text, and email access for the remainder of this week. I will be back in the office on Tuesday, April 4. Lenten Blessings as you come closer to Calvary!