Signs of Hope

Rev. Dick Fylling, member of the Annual Meeting Planning Work Group, reflects on signs of hope that point to the potential for a world free from racism. This coming June the MN Conference Annual Meeting will gather around the theme of “Going Deeper: Trusting in Sacred Conversation” which developed out of a resolution adopted at last year’s annual meeting, “Dismantling Racism and Creating Diversity in the Minnesota Conference”. Our sacred conversations together will be grounded in Luke 5:1‐11, where Jesus invited the disciples to ‘go deeper’, trusting in God’s presence.

MN Conference of the UCC - Annual Meeting - June 12-14, 2015During worship at Hutchinson on Sunday, March 15, our Pastor, Rev. Cindy Mueller, passed out blank cards and asked those who were willing to write down something we fear. I took a card and immediately wrote, “I fear that the cancer that is racism will never be eradicated in this society.

Nine days later, I have realized there are signs of hope in our midst, if we only look for them – or if we let them find us – and for us to be open to them when we do.

Last Thursday, while turning channels, I bumped into an interview by Jim Cramer on CNBC. Mr. Cramer is an expert on Wall Street and he was interviewing a man named Howard Schultz. I turns out that Mr. Schultz is the CEO of Starbucks. He is also an active citizen in the social struggles facing the United States – including the struggle against racism. He has conducted forums on race, including one in January in New York City. He has been urging conversations on racism at his Starbucks stores across the country.

This plan has been called “COME TOGETHER” – and although its conversation idea has been  set aside this past weekend, it has still become an idea whose time has come, even in unplanned meetings.

Driving home this past Monday evening, I turned on WCCO and the talk show host was telling about a call the station had received from a listener. She had said that she and her husband – both African-Americans – had gone to dinner this past weekend. They began to visit with a Caucasian couple sitting at the next table. After introducing themselves to one another and exchanging basic information and pleasantries, they began to talk on a variety of subjects, including race. Four hours later, the two couples moved to a single table where they shared another two hours before they parted ways as newfound friends. I think Howard Schultz would like to hear of that conversation. On Friday, on CNN, I had discovered that he was actually on the cover of the February 16, 2015 edition of TIME magazine.

The second sign of hope following the Cramer interview came on Friday when I learned how the NCAA Basketball Tournament games had finished.

The coach and three of his players were being interviewed after being defeated a few minutes earlier in their first and last game of the tournament. The coach and two of the players were Caucasian. The other young player was African-American.
They all were “down” emotionally, but when this young man spoke, he tearfully stated that “everybody on this team loves each other and that “These four years have been the best four years of my life.”

I could have understood such a statement from an African-American player who had spent those four years at Louisville or Miami or Syracuse or Michigan; but this young man has spent the last four years – the best four years of his life as a student and as a basketball player at the University of Wyoming at Laramie.

I guess it seems we can all see signs of hope for the reduction of racism in this country if we are open to discovering them and if we let them find us.

– Rev. Dick Fylling, Annual Meeting Planning Work Group