My Silence: A Response to #MeToo

sexual-assault-awareness-month-squareTo the people who posted #MeToo: From the depth of my soul, I am sorry. There are no words I can muster, pen or type to erase your pain, struggle, grief and whatever other feelings you feel. To assume I could even attempt to make sense, understand, or grapple with what you have gone through would give myself way too much credit. Instead, I promise to sit in silence.

My silence is not an attempt to ignore what you went through or to pass it off as your fault. My silence is not apathy or rejection. My silence is here to listen to your story and walk with you in your pain. My silence is here because I cannot speak for you or assume that I can. I cannot tell your story. I sit in silence because when silence happens the truth can start to come forth and your story is told and heard. If I am not silent, I will fill the void with incompetence and your story is too valuable for that. I promise to sit in silence to listen and be present.

My silence doesn’t mean I won’t speak up. I will speak up as I raise my son. I promise I will raise him to understand and to respect the word “NO!” I promise to raise him to recognize someone else’s body is his/her own. I will teach him to ask permission not ask for forgiveness. My silence doesn’t mean I won’t tell others to be quiet when they assume they understand your story and want to speak for you, instead of you, over you, or behind you.

I’m silent out of respect, grief, and in awe. I’m in awe of your bravery, your fight, your courage and your story. I am honored you are willing to share your story with me. It is out of awe, honor, and respect I am silent. I am silent so I can listen.

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AiR_E016 – Reconciling Congregation – Carter Ellis

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Carter Ellis is the lead pastor of The Walk [Faithwalk], a reconciling congregation in Gibsonville, NC.  We sit down and talk about what it means to be a reconciling congregation and the implications have on the lives of her members and community she serves in.  If you would like to know more about The Walk, CLICK HERE.

Thank you again for listening and please leave a rating and review over at Apple Podcast by CLICKING HERE.

Episode 17 will go live on November 6th and it is a conversation with Steve Cheyney, the Campus Minister at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  We will talk about what it is like to do ministry with Generation Z and other fun stuff in the life of a campus minister.

Something I would love to know more about are laity you know of who are living into God’s call for their lives and who are doing some unique and wonderful things for the Kingdom of God.  Most of my conversations have been with professional Christians, clergy, and I would love to extend my conversations to some laity or non-clergy folks.  If you know of someone I should have a conversation with, send me an email at revjimparsons[at] gmail [dot] com.

AiR_E015 – District Superintendent – Mark Andrews

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In this new episode, I sit down with the District Superintendent (DS) of the Metro District of the Western North Carolina Conference, Mark Andrews.  Mark has just finished his first year as a DS and we talk about his adventure in this new appointment.  For those who don’t know a DS is someone in charge of a District within an Annual Conference.  The DS’s main job is to build up, encourage and help congregations and clergy in their district.  They are the ones called in when there is a congregational or clergy crisis.  They are also a part of the cabinet, which makes the appointments for the conference.  We talk about all these areas and more in our conversation.

Thank you again for listening and please head over to Apple Podcast and leave a rating and review.  I would love to hear what you all think about this podcast and it would go a long way to telling others about it.

In the next episode, I sit down with Carter Ellis the pastor of FaithWalk, a unique congregation just outside Greensboro, NC.

AiR_E014 – Young Clergy – Trip Lowery

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Trip LoweryTrip Lowery is the Director of Young Adult Ministry, Discernment and Enlistment, Division of Ordained Ministry for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) for the United Methodist Church.  Trip helps Annual Conferences within the United Methodist Church help young people hear their call into ministry.  In our conversation we talk about what that work is like, some of the successes of the millions of dollars in grant money that has gone out with the Young Clergy Inititive, and also another one of his passions, Surfing for Autism.

Here are some of the links that Trip mentions in our conversation.
Explore Calling
Exploration
CALLED
Surfing for Autism

Also, here is the site for my work with the Call & Vocation Team in my conference, Is God Calling Me.  

On Monday, Oct. 2, I will have a conversation with my boss, Mark Andrews, the District Superintendent (DS) for the Metro District within the Western North Carolina Conference.  We talk about what it is like to be a DS and some of the things he has learned in his first year in that position.

Please subscribe using however you get your podcasts and please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.  Also, go back and listen to Season 1.  One of my favorite podcasts is Episode 3 when I sit down with Amy Butler, the lead pastor at Riverside Chruch in NYC.

AiR_E013 – Wesley Bros – Charlie Baber

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In this conversation, I talk with the author, illustrator, and creator of the online comic, “The Wesley Bros.”  In this weekly comic, Charlie, shares history and heritage of these founders of the United Methodist denomination.  With wit, snark, and cutting commentary, Charlie has captivated the hearts of many people through the faces of John and Charles Wesley.Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 8.08.14 AM

Here are some of the links that Charlie shared in our conversation.

Stripped

Popular Wesley Bros
In Which St. Basil the Great Annoys an American
Nothing. Literally, just…nothing
Atonement Theories of Relativity
Who is My Neighbor

AiR_E012 – Divorce – Robin Fitzgerald

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Robin FitzgeraldCLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

How do ministers handle huge events in their personal life and also still do ministry?  How do clergy work through their personal lives being on display yet still live into the calling that God has laid upon their heart?

I have the pleasure and honor of talking about these deeply personal questions and more with Robin Fitzgerald.  Robin went through a divorce a few years ago and was willing to walk through some of the lessons she has learned and how she lived through those times.  I truly hope you can hear the hope and grace that is offered in our conversation.

If you would like to share your thoughts or say thank you to Robin, you can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Please give this podcast a rating and review on Apple Podcast and feel free to share it on your own social media to help spread the word of these conversations.

In two weeks I will present a new conversation with Charlie Baber, the author, and illustrator of “The Wesley Bros,” an online comic featuring the dynamic duo of Charles and John Wesley.

Wrestling with White Privilege

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Image used from Scene on Radio, Episode 37’s page.  Composite image: Chenjerai Kumanyika, left; photo by Danusia Trevino. And John Biewen, photo by Ewa Pohl.

Chenjerai Kumanyika is an ongoing partner on the podcast “Seeing White,” a series by “Scene On Radio.” In Episode 37 (part 7 of the “Seeing White” series) Kumanyika, a black man poses a question to the host John Biewen, a white man. He asks John if he feels any responsibility for what other white people do? This question has sat in my soul like a splinter deep in the bottom of my foot.

Kumanyika goes on to explain that as a black man there is a black identity that exists, a connection felt between black people. When he received his Ph.D., he said that he thought it was a victory for all black people, not just himself. When he sees a criminal that is black, he feels that he is part of that failure. He is trying to remove himself from thinking like that, but it is hard. For white people, here in America, we do not have that same connection to the events, situations, and actions of other white people.

The splinter in my foot, the question gripping my soul, is should we? Should my whiteness be attached to the actions of other white people in our society? How would our culture, society, and community change if I, and all white people, personally felt attached to what other white people do?

The truth is I never have and I am sure most of the white people reading this never have either. What I have started to understand this is one aspect of white privilege. I don’t have to look at the actions of Dylann Ruth, who murdered nine people at church and feel any attachment to his actions at all. I feel horrible that he did it but I wasn’t connected on a racial level with him.

The same is true with the actions of the people in Charlottesville, VA this last week. I never really felt connected to other white people who carried Nazi and Confederate Flags while chanting hateful, horrible things about other races. I don’t feel connected to James Alex Fields who drove his car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

I am starting to feel connected. No, I do not agree with their ideology, their twisting of scripture, and the despicable ways they view the world and those who live in it. The connection I am feeling is that I have to limit my own privilege to remove myself from them. I can’t ignore them or their actions by simply saying, “Well, they have a horrible worldview and they are not me.” They are white Americans. I am a white American.

I have to start to acknowledge that as a white American, I have a historical advantage over people of color. Our country has in its foundation, given an advantage to people who are deemed as white. I have been born into and part of this privilege, like it or not, claimed or not.

What claiming this connection can do is to help start naming where it goes wrong or acknowledging the systems that existed and still exist today which continue to hold up this ideal.

Naming these systems, acknowledging our privilege, pulls the sins of the past, present and future, into the light. It gives a voice to what I’ve ignored, out of ignorance and privilege, for a long time. As we name these realities and shed light on the pain they caused, we can work towards reconciliation and equality on deeper levels in our society.

I don’t have answers. I’m simply naming the reality of my soul as I feel the weight of the privilege I never understood I had…until now.