Tomorrow afternoon, we have planned a Black History Celebration at Church of Our Savior which goes beyond our expectations. Our keynote speaker will be the Rev’d Richard Meadows, Rector of St John’s Church, Orlando–the first predominantly Black parish in the Diocese. Our special music will be provided by the Steel Orchestra of St John’s Church, Kissimmee. Fr. Meadows is bringing along Bishop Gerard Mpango, retired from Tanzania; and Bishop-Elect Greg Brewer will be in attendance with his wife, Laura Lee. Three parishes from our Diocese will be presenting the program. I expect friends from at least three other parishes, together with our Bishop Elect, to be in attendance.
To remember one’s history is to know the patterns that have shaped one’s life. To reflect on one’s history is to consider how those patterns open up new avenues for the future. In our case, our history as a parish is one of opening the doors and welcoming people of all colors in to worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all. In recent years as we have more explicitly considered God’s call to go out into missions, we have the opportunity to build on that generous welcome a commitment to a generous outreach. Fr. Benedict Vani models that for us, returning to Liberia as a black Liberian to build up the Church in Bolahun. He is generously giving his last years (he turned 80 last year) to reach out internationally. Bp Mpango likewise demonstrates the faith of a man to reach out beyond the comfort of his own parish and community.
If missions is truly God’s gift to the whole Church, then the Church must go to all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations; and likewise, all peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations are invited to engage missions with a generous desire to see others see and hear the love of Christ Jesus and to become His followers. I wonder then, what God has in mind for tomorrow bringing us these surprise visitors, Bishop Elect Greg and Bishop Mpango!? I am confident of this: God will be praised and His people challenged.