Dear Members of the Mountain Sky Family,
It is ironic, that as a clergy person with years of preaching, I still find it incredibly difficult to express my thoughts coherently, whether verbally or written. Those who know me know that I do not find it difficult to be vulnerable. The difficulty lies in the fact that I often find my thoughts bumbling and jumbling all over the place within my mind.
I am a woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and clergy person. I am Christian, United Methodist. I am Asian American. I am a beloved child of God. I am the daughter of parents who escaped Vietnam known as ‘boat people’. I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am Vietnamese American. There are so many intersections within my being and often it is deeply rich, yet other times it is overwhelming and confusing. I am still learning and discovering who I am; and I am okay with that. In addition to all I have shared above, I am grateful and humbled to serve as the Mountain Sky Conference’s Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer. And I am sorry. I confess that I do not have a list of resources to share, how-tos, or a statement to make at the moment. My invitation to us is to simply ‘turn towards one another.’
I am only one voice among other Asian and Asian American siblings throughout our Conference. There are not many Asian and Asian Americans within our Mountain Sky area, but we are here. We are local business owners, chefs, teachers, doctors, manicurists, barbers, nannies, hairdressers, grocers, farmers, dry cleaners, activists, caretakers, and of course so much and many more. We are clergy and laity; we are church members of the UMC. Our experiences and stories share some common threads, but are very different with their own unique beauty, pain, and triumphs. So, my invitation to us is to ‘turn towards one another.’
Racism towards Asians and Asian Americans has been a part of American history. As with many, the history has been hidden. My invitation to ‘turn towards one another’ is an encouragement for us to continue the journey of learning our shared history and to reach out to listen deeply to the voices and lived experiences of others. If you have not reached out to an Asian sibling, reach out, ‘turn towards’ them. ‘Turn towards’ me. ‘Turn towards’ us. Let us all ‘turn towards’ one another. May God’s Spirit give us the courage to do so. May we be blessed by transformative relationships.
Turning to One Another
Margaret Wheatley, “Turning to One Another,” 2002
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about.
Ask “What’s possible?” not “What’s wrong?” Keep asking.
Notice what you care about.
Assume that many others share your dreams.
Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.
Talk to people you know.
Talk to people you don’t know.
Talk to people you never talk to.
Be intrigued by the differences you hear.
Expect to be surprised.
Treasure curiosity more than certainty.
Invite in everybody who cares to work on what’s possible.
Acknowledge that everyone is an expert about something.
Know that creative solutions come from new connections.
Remember, you don’t fear people whose story you know.
Real listening always brings people closer together.
Trust that meaningful conversations can change your world.
Rely on human goodness. Stay together.
A question to ponder together: Consider all the moments within the Bible where this is ‘turning to/towards one another’ and the transformation that happens because of it. I would love to hear your reflections and thoughts. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
I also encourage you to review and lean on resources available through our Connection.
From the General Commission on Race and Religion - https://www.gcorr.org/news/enough-is-enough-church-must-break-its-silence-on-racial-violence
From the Global Ministries and the Asian American Language Ministry - https://umcmission.org/asian-american-language-ministry-aalm/
Grateful for the journey together,
Rev. Bich Thy (Betty) Nguyen
Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer