Last Sunday morning, I was preaching at Edgehill United Methodist Church, the church that's been my home since 1979. I was filling in for our pastor, John Feldhacker, who was away that day. We celebrated Black History Month and the congregation's history of diversity. I told stories about Edgehill saints: Marjorie Campbell, Laura McCray, and Moses Dillard. The scripture was the challenging text from Matthew 5: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
At the second service, I officiated over the Eucharist. It was the first time for me to have the honor to do so, having only recently received sacramental authority from the bishop here in the Tennessee conference. (A change in The United Methodist Discipline gave the option for deacons to be able to receive sacramental authority with permission of the resident bishop.)
It was such an honor to be able to welcome all people to the Lord's table, to pray the prayer of Great Thanksgiving, to break the bread, to lift the cup, to share the gifts of bread and cup with the congregation.
A reporter who was at the service gathering footage for a story on Sanctuary Churches captured the moment when the bread was broken. This image ended up on the front page of the local paper on Thursday. A video from the service was in an article in USA Today on Wednesday.
Our church is just beginning to explore what it would mean if we declared ourselves a sanctuary church. It seems to be a strong calling for us. Edgehill has always responded to those who were in need of a home and I trust that we will find our way to be in ministry in a deeper way to immigrants here in Tennessee.
This week I saw, first hand, the power of social media. My photo was not just in the local paper. It showed up in papers around the country. On Saturday I was contacted by a long, lost friend in Germany who had seen the video on Facebook.
The experience has been a bit overwhelming to this introvert. I'm still recovering from my own intense experience of the "24-hour news cycle." And ... I'm grateful for the ability to share the Good News with the world about the ministry of churches like Edgehill who are listening to God's calling and responding to the needs of the world.