The most eventful thing that happened on July 5 was that I was honored to officiate my first wedding for two friends at Peace Camp. Did I know that I'd be marrying folks this week? Nope! Tuesday night came around, and as I was sitting eating dessert with some members of the Board of Directors of Bautistas por la Paz, one friend said, "Well, we went to Dollar General today. Then we went to the county clerk and picked up a marriage license. We might get married this week. What would you think about officiating it?" And then last night, Thursday the 5th, about 30 friends gathered on the porch behind the chapel, overlooking beautiful Keuka Lake and blessed the union of two beloved ones. We even had them do an "exchanging of wings" (children's fairy wings) and a sparkler send-off. One of my college pastors from Oberlin, Steve Hammond, was the wedding photographer, and that was pretty fun. So, needless to say, this week has been full of surprises and unforeseen joys, including planning a wedding ceremony for two ornery Baptists in less than two days!
Other joys this week included listening to the Executive Director of Bautistas por la Paz, LeDayne McLeese Polaski, give her "farewell address." If y'all haven't heard, LeDayne will be stepping down from the Executive Director role after 20 years of service (in different positions) for the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. She will be pursuing other hopes and dreams and looks forward to continuing the work of peacemaking and doing whatever is hers to do. We are incredibly grateful for her service and leadership and love and support. However, she is not done until May 31, 2019, so if you want to wish her well on her next journey, you have time to send her an email!
During an afternoon excursion, some seminarians from the USA, Cuba and Puerto Rico discussed theologies of blessing. Ree_Bell, one of our speakers from earlier in the week, shared that she doesn't often use language of blessing anymore because often it's hard to distinguish God's favor from our systemic privilege as evidenced through our material possessions. This was very challenging to me, as I feel the language of blessing expresses a deep and important revelation about the abundance of God. However, I understand how thinking of the ways I've been blessed in my life can easily get complicated with social systems. For example, I'm grateful to have met these fellow seminarians from Puerto Rico and Cuba, Yaheli and Ernesto, but we are only able to meet because I have the privilege (monetarily, in time, with my work) to be able to be present at this camp. Lots to consider and chew over. Join me in thinking about this, won't you?
One of my favorite nights of Peace Camp is the Friday night youth-led worship service. These youth tonight were PREACHING! Besides sharing some amazing music that fit the theme of "let's go back to the water," including a wonderful mash-up of "Wade in the Water" with a song by Rochester, NY-area singer-songwriter couple Leslie Lee and Steve Gretz. Some of the youth shared about the need to balance telling people about our faith as progressive Baptists with showing people our faith. They invited the gathered congregation to really see them not as "the church of the future" but "the church RIGHT NOW." They shared how important it has been in their lives for people to get to know them deeply before making judgments about them, and how the judgments we make have justice consequences. The three youth speakers got a standing ovation from the entire crowd. (And, as you can see in one of these photos, some of the youth had fun creating the slide show!)
Photos include: LeDayne preaching on Mark 2, folks remembering our baptisms outside the Keuka chapel, a silly slide from the youth worship service, and one of the many mysterious natural art installations that have been popping up around campus this week.
I will see you on Sunday!
Peace be with you,
This blog includes thoughts from various contributors at Seattle First Baptist