– from Rev. Dick Fylling, Annual Meeting Planning Work Group
I was thinking about our Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference late one night last week and its theme – Going Deeper: Trusting in Sacred Covenant . At that gathering, we will be examining the issue of racism and how it affects all of us one way or another – how it divides us and challenges our ideals as Christians and as citizens of this country and God’s world.
Literally out of the night, I suddenly thought of a line from an old Willie Nelson song: “My heroes have always been cowboys.” I still don’t know why that line suddenly came to mind; but it took me a long way back.
Tell me, who have been the heroes in your life? Who have been the persons you most admired as you were growing up and whom you most respected?
As I quickly turned the pages of my mind and my childhood, I came up with the answer. Like Willy Nelson, there were some cowboys I admired; but my heroes growing up were professional athletes, and they were Major League Baseball players. That alone did not surprise me. What surprised me in the late hours of the night was the list of players that came to mind.
Having moved from the Black Hills of South Dakota to a suburb West of Chicago at an early age, I became enamored with the game of baseball and marveled at the skill of some of the players. I never thought about their histories, their families or the struggles of their lives. They were simply the best players I had ever seen. I jotted down their names that night. They were Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, and Tony Oliva, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax.
I hadn’t realized until I read their names the next morning that all but one of them was a person of color. The one Caucasian was Sandy Koufax – and Sandy is a Jew.
Some years ago, there was another Jew. He taught us that all persons are children of God and beloved to our Creator. His name was Jesus. We remember his life and his teachings; but sometimes we still forget that he, too, was a person of color.
We hope you will join us at the Minnesota Conference Annual Meeting, June 12-14, as we consider our responsibilities and faithful witnesses as persons and as churches seeking to help eradicate the cancer of racism, here and throughout God’s world.
– Rev. Dick Fylling, Annual Meeting Planning Work Group