A couple weeks ago in the United Methodist Reporter there was an interesting article about cross-racial clergy appointments. Apparently this assigning of a pastor of one race to a church primarily of another race is making some headway among Methodist churches whose motto is “open doors, open hearts.” Pastoral appointments are made based on what talents are needed for each church and supposedly disregard anything as simplistic as race or gender per their Book of Discipline, i.e. “The Rule Book.” If a congregation (and the pastor) is welcoming and accepting and flexible enough to adapt to each other, a cross-racial appointment can work just fine. Sometimes, of course, things don’t work out so well. You can imagine that the situation could be quite a challenge.
I liked Bishop Gregory Palmer’s comments that “If people sit down together and study scripture, their stories emerge. When I hear other people’s stories, I begin to hear my story.” This is one of the reasons I decided to publish Cherry Blossoms in Twilight – because I knew that when we hear each others stories, no matter our race or gender or political view, we find the common bonds between us as human beings. If we focus on our commonality and hold that to be of overriding importance, then we can look past each other’s differences and be more accepting of each other. Many faces… one heart.