From the District Superintendent

Looking Towards Lent 2021

Posted 14 January, 2021 by Rev. J. Douglas Forrester

Sometime between 1418 and 1427, a German canon regular named Thomas a Kempis composed a devotional book called The Imitation of Christ. In this classic example of Christian writing, Thomas asks the reader a question: "Who wages a stronger battle than one who labors to overcome oneself?" As we approach the holy season of Lent I am certain that we, in one way or another, will be asking ourselves that same question as we seek to grow in grace such that we may "overcome ourselves."

In that spirit, I wish to offer you a resource for this kind of self-examination that it is my prayer that each of us can use in some way in this year's Lenten journey: our Conference's home-grown race relations videos and curriculum.

This Roots, Race, and Discipleship ministry was borne out of a question asked by Bishop Sharma D. Lewis on May 29, 2020, when she asked "When do we as children of God in the second-largest annual conference in The United Methodist connection decide to have the crucial conversations and examine our own experiential and inherited stories of race and racism?" This curriculum seeks to enable individuals, small groups, even entire congregations to engage in these conversations.

You can find more information at www.vaumc.org/racerelations and you can see the videos produced thus far at www.vaumc.org/racerelationsvideos. The videos include Korean subtitles, Spanish subtitles, or English captions and are accompanied by written curriculum in English, Spanish, and Korean.

It is my prayer that the churches and pastors of the Roanoke District will utilize these resources as a part of this year's Lenten journey. It is my conviction that these offerings will enable the people called Methodists in our area to have honest conversations about race and race relations, and how we can put our learnings to work to help make the Kingdom known in our midst.

As you make your plans for this curriculum, please let me know how you are using it. I am excited to see what a difference they can make in this time and place. I will be offering gatherings on Zoom for clergy on the Roanoke District to watch and discuss these videos together during Lent. More information on this will be forthcoming.

Grace and peace,  Doug