Drinking the Cup

In his March blog, Rev. John Boley  talks about mixing our deep faith with our core American values

REV. JOHN BOLEY
Clergy Assistant to the Bishop

When I was asked to be chair of the WMC Board of Church and Society back in about 2002, I inherited a very hopeful project that was in the brainstorming and early implementation stage. It was to pull together individuals from both conferences with a passion for peace and justice issues and hold inter-conference events on timely subjects. 

To that end, Rich Peacock and I co-chaired annual events which eventually took on the name of “Keep Making Peace.” After several years of co-chairing, I stepped back to become Treasurer and Registrar. Eventually, all of those duties have been taken over by more capable people, and now I am happy to just attend every year. Rich, in the meantime, has continued to chair this event and has worked hard at it over the years. 

Back in the initial few years of this event, we were concerned about the war in Iraq, about the doctrine of preemptive war, about the American perpetuation of Empire, about Israel and Palestine, and many other peace and justice challenges presented in our times. We have had a host of wonderful speakers, including Bishop Jonathan Keaton, Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, Jim Winkler, John Dominic Crosson, and Anna Baltzer. We have kept the registration costs down with financial sponsorship from the Conference Boards of Church and Society and the United Methodist Women. 

This year, the event will take place at University UMC in East Lansing on April 1st. The topic will be “Confronting Michigan’s Climate Change.” Bishop David Bard will be a keynote speaker along with other renowned experts on climate change. 

It is very tempting for some to see this as a political rally for leftist type folks. However, although these are issues-oriented events, no one attending these events over the years would place their passion for these issues outside of their faith journey. When people rally for care of creation, for restraint in war-making, for respect of other cultures and faiths, and for promoting basic human rights, they are operating out of their own faith, not out of a particular political commitment. 

Last night I attended the Kalamazoo Public Library Reading Together Program featuring Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Abdul Jabbar’s book, “Writings on the Wall:  Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White” was the Kalamazoo community read book for this year. Abdul Jabbar seems to have forged his beliefs through a melding of his Muslim faith and his belief in the United States Constitution and its civil liberties. It is reminiscent of how Martin Luther King, Jr. did the same with his deep Christian faith and how his “dream” was also deeply rooted in the American dream. 

For me, attending Keep Making Peace every year is an important reminder of how we can effectively mix our deep faith with our core American values. It is about love of God and God’s creation. It’s about following Christ in loving neighbor as self. It’s about being attuned to the movement of the Spirit in pursing justice and a better life for all. Its about keepin’ on living our joys and obligations of making peace through pursuing justice. 

Editor’s Note: click here for a pdf of the event flyer. Go to http://msuwesley.org/kmp2017 to register.

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