Thrive
Podcast

Overview

Hey Everyone! Welcome to this week’s edition of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast. This episode is the first of a four-part series of Community Conversations on Race all releasing today that were hosted by Rev. Donna Covington, Vice President of Formation at Asbury Seminary. These recordings are also available as a video series at thrive.asburyseminary.edu, but we wanted to make them available in podcast, too.

Today’s conversation discusses Kingdom Leadership. In this episode, Rev. Donna Covington leads a conversation with Rev. Dr. Charles Savage, Mr. Steve Moore, Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, and Dr. Joseph Harris on Kingdom Leadership to discuss racial injustice from a leadership perspective and how we can listen, learn and lead in these times.

Let’s listen!

Community Conversation on Race, Kingdom Leadership

Rev. Dr. Charles “Chuck” Savage
Retired Elder in Full Connection, United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Charles Savage served as president of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation from July 2011 until June 2016. Rev. Dr. Savage had served as a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees for 18 years prior to assuming the role of president. He served as board chair for the five years immediately preceding his appointment as president. Rev. Dr. Savage entered the ministry after a successful 32-year career with IBM. He has served as senior pastor at several United Methodist churches in North Georgia, including Christ UMC in Roswell and Kingswood UMC in Dunwoody. He was ordained as an elder in 2004 and has been a delegate to the general conference in 2008, 2012, and 2016. 

Mr. Steve Moore
Chief Executive Officer of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Mr. Steve Moore is the chief executive officer of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. He is responsible for all programs and activities of the Trust. Mr. Moore joined the Trust in 2006 after serving in senior leadership positions at Asbury Theological Seminary, Baylor University, Seattle Pacific University, Texas Tech University, and Texas Tech Wesley Foundation. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is a widely published author and frequent speaker at colleges, universities and conferences.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon
Ambassador/General Superintendent Emeriti at
The Wesleyan Church
Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon is the Ambassador/General Superintendent Emeriti of The Wesleyan Church, based in Fishers, Ind. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Rev. Dr. Lyon has pursued further study in historical theology at St. Louis University.  In the back bedroom of her home in 1996, Lyon began World Hope International, a Christian relief and development organization, which today works in 14 of the poorest countries in the world. She served as CEO of that organization until her election as General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church in 2008. She has been awarded several honorary degrees, including the Doctor of Humane Letters from Asbury Seminary.  She served as an Adjunct Professor at Asbury Seminary in the Church and Society Department from 1985-1991.

Dr. Joseph Harris
Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Communications Ministry
Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Dr. Joseph Harris is the Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Communications Ministry for the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member and chair of the board of trustees at Asbury Seminary. His B.A. is from the University of Massachusetts, and his M.Div. and D.Min. degrees are from Oral Roberts University. He also has an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oklahoma City University and has done post-doctoral studies at Alliance School of Theology. Dr. Harris has been a pastor and has also served as the first General Secretary for the General Commission on United Methodist Men. The United Methodist Men named him a John Wesley Fellow. He has been a delegate multiple times to General and to Jurisdictional Conference and was an endorsed episcopal candidate in 2000. He has been active in civic organizations and is the recipient of several civic awards, including the National Silver Buffalo Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America. 

Rev. Donna Covington is the Vice President of Formation at Asbury Seminary. She is a highly accomplished senior leader with experience in both corporate and higher education with a heart for ministry. Rev. Covington spent most of her life in the corporate world, serving in managerial positions at Texas Instruments and IBM from 1979-1991. From 1991-2007, she worked at Lexmark International, Inc., in a succession of positions from director to Vice President of Customer Service. After her son was killed in an altercation over a racial slur in 2010, Rev. Covington decided she wanted to spend the rest of her life helping in the spiritual and professional formation of future leaders. As a first-generation African-American college student, Rev. Covington prioritizes student success through student-focused initiatives. From 2010-2014, she worked at Kentucky State University, enhancing the university’s commitment to academic excellence, research and community service. Rev. Covington has been trained in Design Thinking at Stanford University, chaired Lexmark’s first Diversity Initiative, as well as the Black Achievers for Central Kentucky, and was recognized nationally by the President’s Award for Women of Color in Technology.

Heidi Wilcox, host of the Thrive Podcast

Writer, podcaster, and social media manager, Heidi Wilcox shares stories of truth, justice, healing and hope. She is best known as the host of Spotlight, (especially her blooper reel) highlighting news, events, culturally relevant topics and stories of the ways alumni, current students and faculty are attempting something big for God. If you can’t find her, she’s probably cheering on her Kentucky Wildcats, enjoying a cup of coffee, reading or spending time with her husband, Wes.



Transcript

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to this week’s special edition of the Thrive with Asbury Seminary Podcast. This episode is the first of a four-part series of community conversations on race. All four parts are releasing today, and were originally hosted by Reverend Donna Covington, Vice President of Formation at Asbury Seminary. These recordings are also available as a video series at thrive.asburyseminary.edu. But we wanted to make them available to you in podcast form as well.

Heidi Wilcox:
Today’s conversation discusses kingdom leadership. In this episode, Reverend Donna Covington leads a conversation with Reverend Dr. Charles Savage, Mr. Steve Moore, Reverend Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, and Dr. Joseph Harris on kingdom leadership to discuss racial injustice from a leadership perspective, and how we can listen, learn and lead in these times. Let’s listen.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Hello, friends. I’m so grateful for you and for those joining me today in our community conversation on topics around race and what’s happening in our country. We’ve all witnessed, even on national TV the senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. Collectively, we’re grieving as the body of Christ and a nation over these deaths that represent the injustice and racism that continues to plague our country. To help us process and comprehend together the current events, today we’ll be discussing racial injustice from a leadership perspective and how we can lead through times like this.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Many of you are either leading or will be leading in your organizations and/or churches. Some of you are not exactly sure how to lead or what to say during these times and our goal is to understand how we, as the body of Christ, can reflect and respond in a way that honors God. My name is Rev. Donna Covington and I serve as the Vice President of Formation here at Asbury Theological Seminary. I will be your moderator today and I’m joined by a distinguished panel of guests who are going to lead through our conversation today. Many of them are leaders in their own right still and bring many, many years of leadership experience to our conversation today.

Rev. Donna Covington:
We have Dr. Jo Anne Lyons, who is the ambassador and general superintendent emeritus at the Wesleyan Church. Dr. Lyons has served as the CEO of World Hope International, a Christian relief and development organization until her election as general superintendent of the Wesleyan Church in 2008. Dr. Lyons serves on the board of trustees here at the Seminary. We’re also pleased to have Dr. Joseph Harris who is the assistant to the Bishop and director of Communication Ministry at Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church. Dr. Harris also serves on the board of trustees here at the Seminary and he is chair of the board of trustees.

Rev. Donna Covington:
We’re pleased to have Dr. Steve Moore who is the CEO of the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. Dr. Moore has served in several different senior leadership positions in education and other places and he’s been in one of those positions even here at the Seminary. Dr. Moore is also a member of the Seminary Board of Trustees. We also have Rev. Charles Chuck Savage. Chuck is a retired elder in full connection, United Methodist Church. Rev. Savage entered the ministry after a successful 32 year career at IBM. He and I have something in common. He has also served as the senior pastor of several United Methodist churches and Rev. Savage also serves on the board of trustees here at the Seminary.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Welcome to everyone. Thank you so much for joining me today for this important topic with what’s going on in our country today. Let’s just jump right in, in the time that we have and get started. As I was thinking about this, I’m sure that you have faced crisis before in all the various areas where you have lived. So, crisis management may not be new to you, but as a leader, what model or process have you used when you’re leading people and organizations through a time of crisis?

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
One of the things that occurs to me is the oft times we learn a lot about leadership when we have the privilege of observing someone else’s leadership style. And where that began for me goes back to the early 60s when the civil rights demonstrations were going on and I had the opportunity to be a part of that and the conversations that went on around how non-violence had to be a part of that. And I guess the thing that I learned from that is that somehow or another, non-violence brings a non-anxious presence into the world. And I think that when crisis occur, we need to have people who are able to bring that non-anxious presence so that at least there can be a discussion that goes on around what the real facts are and what the issues are.

Rev. Donna Covington:
It’s great. Thank you. Others.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
I think that’s so good and I think, coupled with that, also is not to be afraid of your own pain that you’re experiencing. I think of the words of Jeremiah where he said, “My heart is crushed and I have horror in my soul.” Those are the very feelings that I had when I first saw the videos of Mr. George Floyd and then the others that certainly have happened. Just finally you think, things cannot get worse, but they do. And the evil that is so surrounded here. I think there is that, we express the pain that we are feeling, because if we don’t we aren’t giving any empathy to anyone else. But it’s also, there is hope.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
And later on it takes a couple of chapters because Jeremiah really goes, he just can’t quit. His heart is just broken beyond compare and finally, a couple of chapters later, then God speaks, God finally speaks. And I wish God would speak sooner. I’m sure Jeremiah felt that too. God just takes a long time. But then God finally speaks and says, “The Lord declares,” and then he begins to say, “I hate what you, but I declare that I will boast, I will not boast enriches. I will not boast in power. I will not boast in all of this, but I boast with the person who defends righteous, speaks for righteousness and justice.” That’s what the Lord says.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
So, I think in that midst of our pain we also bring hope, but we share that pain because everyone’s in pain and as you lead, you cannot pretend that you don’t have any pain with it. So, part of that is pain, but with hope.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
I guess, for me I learned how and continue to learn how to deal with crisis actually from my mother. I can recall when Martin Luther King was assassinated and Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, she just immediately fell to her knees, sought God’s still small voice and then went to the Word. Those were her first things that she did in the midst of crisis. And I just learned from that, from that, from that point on it, when I deal with either crisis personally, or I see crisis in the world, I drop to my knees, I try to listen to God’s still small voice, and I try to seek in the word. And then from that, I seek help either through counsel of others or through self-examination so that I can move towards a time of restoration, a time of forgiveness, a time of repentance and a time of reconciliation. I just think that having that process with me makes all the difference in the world.

Mr. Steve Moore:
What I would add is that in leading a crisis, I think we’ve got to prepare for before we’re in a crisis. I think that having, being very clear about the mission, the vision, the values and having conversations before you get to a crisis helps immensely. And I know that, I think it was Dwight Eisenhower said that plans when you go to war are useless, but planning is invaluable because whatever you planned is not going to be that way, it’s going to change. And so, you’ve got the planning though, in a sense, gets you into the modality of thinking and scenario planning and that kind of thing.

Mr. Steve Moore:
And I just want to echo what Jo Anne said. I think that being transparent and honest is just really a critical piece to say, and to recognize but to also not be afraid just to say we are going to move forward. In the midst of this crisis, we may not be 100% sure the steps that we’re taking are all the right ones, but we will adjust. We will adapt and do that. And I think that’s an important vulnerability to be willing to recognize.

Rev. Donna Covington:
I think all of you have talked about based on your experience, you do have a model you work through and you do have a process that you work through and the importance. And that was your point, Steve of thinking about that, doing that scenario planning, having great counselors, being transparent, being vulnerable being able to say, “I may not know all the answers, but we will get through this together.” So, let’s build upon this a little bit. How has this crisis been different than what you’ve experienced in the past? So, it feels like Chuck, you and I were talking about this earlier in the week, it feels like we have a perfect storm. We have the coronavirus, which has brought economic financial crisis. We have over a 100,000 deaths of people in the United States, which we’re still trying to process our way through.

Rev. Donna Covington:
We have people struggling with just basic human needs, food and shelter, and health and health insurance. If you don’t have health insurance in our company. And the stress from being isolated, from being outside of community have all contributed as we now, as you said it so well, Jo Anne have watched in horror, a man murdered on the streets of one of our cities. People could be experiencing a lot of loss of hope. So, as we talk about part of our process and model we use, Joe you brought this in, I think Chuck, you brought it in, is we always, as the body of Christ have to have hope. But we’re now in a nation that has suffered tremendously. And how do we help as leaders? How do you as a leader help that message of hope as you work your way through your process and model?

Dr. Joseph Harris:
I believe that we, as Christian people, I have to model what we would like to see others also engaging. Someone once said that we have to behave like resurrection people who live on a Good Friday. And it just seems like Good Friday is around us a lot lately. But as resurrection people, we’re people of hope, we’re people who are committed to helping others, particularly those who suffer and we’re people who stay positive when the world wants to be negative all the time. And we look forward, not sideways or backwards. We learn from history, but we’re not captive to history. And if we can model those things, for those who look to us for leadership and for guidance I think we could help a lot of people continue to move the ball forward.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
And now, I pick up on what Joe says, I’m wrestling with Psalm 46 today, and it talks about the mountains crumbling and falling into the sea and form. And then it gets down to a point we speak about this hope and it talks about we get to the point where God will cause the wars to cease. And there’s a phase we generally quoted as “Be still and know that I’m God.” One of the translations that I’ve read says that it probably said better, “Relax and trust God, because he’ll carry you through to the other side.” And I think that’s a part of the hope that we have to offer.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
The other piece of this is that I think that there’s a, we have to get out. And I think this goes back to something that Jo Anne was talking about. We have to get out of the, I’m okay, you’re okay world. And we have to have ourselves to say, “No, things are not good.” And let’s be honest and be willing to be vulnerable and share those things so that we can get truth out on the table.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
I agree with what you all have said. And I just like to say, that hope is action also. It isn’t just a standing back and a vague hope. And this is where we need God’s guidance in the hope that we know that God cares for righteousness and justice. And so, that’s his heart. And so, I think as we lead the church in this, we have to know how he wants us to lead it, because everybody’s going to have some kind of an answer on how this happens. But how is it God’s righteousness and justice first. I love Amos words, “Let justice roll down like a river and righteousness’ never failing stream.” Because it takes both, it says that nexus of righteousness and justice that transformation takes place. And so, how do we hear God that we can lead people in that way, in that process.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
And Chuck, you have been in Psalm 46. When the COVID crisis started, I got stuck in Psalm 137 about hanging my harp on the willow, “And they mourned and they wept because they kept remembering.” And I kept hearing our church leaders, “Oh, remember my church used to be like when we got together.” And sat around with that. And then God began to show them how to operate and what to do. And of course, we know the end of the story and ultimately we know the end, the story is Jesus. And we can then take our harps off that willow and begin to sing. But there’s a process there that we have to lead people in. And that’s where I think it becomes difficult, but there’s hope because God’s going to take us through it.

Mr. Steve Moore:
Jo Anne, one of the things that I hear in what you’re saying is and for years some people may not know I’m a Trekkie and that begins with boldly going where no one has gone before.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Oh yes.

Mr. Steve Moore:
And we’re in a place where that’s what we need to do, we need to allow and trust God to lead us to places that we have never been before.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
That’s right.

Mr. Steve Moore:
And I think this is a huge opportunity that God is putting in our place to lead and to do that.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
I agree. And really the church and the Lord is the only hope. It’s the only place.

Mr. Steve Moore:
We’re reaching people today that we would not have reached, had not COVID come.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
That’s right.

Mr. Steve Moore:
One of my friends spoke about a situation. He’s a pastor in Alabama and he had somebody from South Carolina join his church.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Yeah.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
Wow.

Rev. Donna Covington:
And Steve, you’re not leading in the church. You’re leading the board of trust. Many people are going to be leading as Christians in the body of Christ.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
That’s right.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Outside the church. They’re going to have people coming to them and saying, “I hear you, I understand Christians like lament. I understand that we stay in these places. Well, what do we do after we share our words of hope? How do we lead change?” I have people calling me now, emailing me, texting me, saying, “Okay, so what can we do? What can we do now?” when we hear that bubbling up in our organizations and the people that work and lead in our organizations, how do we help them? What do we say to them?

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
That’s a great question. And in one sense, I want to build on something Chuck said about boldly go where no one’s ever gone before. I think the other part of that is to not forget that people have been in these places before and to learn and go back. And we tend to be people with short memories and we need to remember that’s one of the most mentioned words in the Bible is remember. And so, in this particular case, I went back and listened to a talk Martin Luther King had given at Stanford University in 1967. It is amazingly prophetic, amazingly prophetic, and gives words and framing that are just so helpful, so wise, amazing.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
And then I went to, I talk that I’d heard Lecrae, the hip hop artists give and he was being interviewed by Gay Brian. People could Google that and Lecrae just, I mean, was so articulate and so helpful with framing and understanding and addressing some of the things around this. So, I think that those kinds of things are extremely helpful. I mentioned to you all that at our church, we had read Psalm 9 and had a reading that went with it and shared with you all. And it was just so helpful because it gave words.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
And I think that’s just an important thing. And the only other thing I would add is I have a small group that I’m a part of and we meet weekly and we’ve met weekly for 13 years. And so, the thing I would say is that’s another one of those things you’ve got to do beforehand, and you’ve got to have that. And they’ve walked with me through crises before, and we’ve walked with each other through crisis and family and work and the city. And so, that’s the value of investing and building relational capital in the community and in your own life.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
Let me add to what Steve was saying. I think a part of what he is saying, I think all of us have said is that there’s also needs to be an errant self-awareness of our own racial biases and racial biases have little to do with just skin color. Because we can have racial biases and being people of color doing that also. But if we become aware of it and understand it, then it puts us in a position to become advocates, advocates for the change. People always ask, “Well, how do we get rid of institutional racism?” Well, one, you become self aware and two you become an advocate. So, you become an advocate in whatever institution that you’re in.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
You say, no, when you hear things that are wrong and you become an advocate for legislative and structural changes that have been keeping people either stuck or out of the system because of history and long traditions of doing things the way we’ve always done them. And all of us know whenever we want churches to change, we continue to encourage them to, well, we just need to be different. Or we have another group that says, “No, we need to be like we used to be.” And we have to keep pushing each other and then seek the Holy Spirit to find out, to make sure we’re one going in the right direction. But two, that we’re bringing people along with us, so that we’re not either too far ahead of them, or too far behind.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
And know that change is inevitable because we’re actually people of change, resurrection people are people of change. And so, we’re advocates for change. And I’m just so grateful as we have these kinds of conversations that they are not conversations we end when the practice is over, but places that we continue to go to in various different, people we encounter, institutions we’re a part of, and groups that we interact with.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Joe what I think you’ve just said is right. But part of it in the white community, we in the white community need to be educated on the systemic issues. It’s unknown, much of it is unknown. And that becomes one of the first things that I think the church can begin to do is to begin educate white… because I’m hearing the word systemic change, systemic change but I’ve asked some of my white pastors, “Well, tell me what that means.” “I don’t know.” But there needs to be that education, and all the years, all the years that have made this constant disparity with that. So, I agree with you totally.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
Jo Anne, a pickup on this and it’s something that Donna said that what’s happening gives us an opportunity to do that. The calls that she’s getting, I’m getting very similar calls to those and I won’t name, but at least one other board member of Asbury and I have committed somebody who doesn’t look like me, we have committed that we are going to be in a conversation for however long it takes to get to the foundation of this because the point is that he has a view and I have a view. And because of what Steve talked about, the other America, those cultures are different. And we need to understand how we get to a point that we understand that we’re both resurrection people. And I think, that this is a small group or a one-on-one kind of deal, because you’re not going to stand up in front of a church and convince a bunch of people to change their heart. It has to be where we get vulnerable with each other.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Well, I think all of you have hit a really great point here, Steve, you started it with, there are a lot of voices that are happening right now, though. There’s social media, there’s the media, there are people blogging, their articles being written. There are a lot of voices that we can be listening to. Lots of podcasts and you all have the so on and so on. One of the questions that I’d like to ask is whose voice can we help people listen to? So, who we listened helps shape us, form us, our deform us. So, as you talk about education and resources talk a little bit more about how can we help our organizations, our churches, start to get their hands on really great resources whether that’s podcast or whatever. And who are you listening to? What voices? Who’s shaping your influences as leaders through times like this?

Mr. Steve Moore:
Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ll kick us off here because one of the things that I think is important to note is that this is what I would call a long obedience in the same direction. And I was talking with some young people last night who said, who wanted to just let’s fix this thing. And I said, “There are changes that we can make, but this is going to take time and that’s not going to be satisfying in the short run, but it’s going to take time.” It got here after 400 years, it doesn’t get fixed in a week. And it actually has been present in the human race for 6,000 years. And it doesn’t get fixed in a week. And so, again, I’m going to sound like a broken record. I think you’ve got to develop some of the voices that help you process and think ahead of time.

Mr. Steve Moore:
And so, I’ll tell you real practically, I opened up a conversation group several years ago with people of color in a lunch group. We meet on a regular basis. We just have very frank discussions and the very first time we met, I just said, “Can we give each other permission to ask things and say things that may not be framed just right and help one another as we navigate that. And if anybody doesn’t want to come back to lunch, next time we meet that’s okay. But that’s what I need in this lunch group. And immediately, everybody said, “I’m all in. I’m all in.” Because they were hungry for those kinds of conversations too.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
I’m in the process right now of reading a book. And I don’t remember, I can’t say the author’s name, but it’s called Stamped From The Beginning. And it is a history of racism and it goes back to the 1500s and talks about how the Puritans brought it to America and all of those kinds of things. And it’s just really, really eye opening for me from that standpoint.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
Chuck, I’ll just add to your the bibliography that you helped us to start with. Two books that have been foundational for me even though and I’ve read them several time. One is Eric Foner, The Second Founding which talks about the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment to the constitution. And you say, “Well, and why is that interesting?” Because that ended up forming the reconstruction era and all the things that went around trying to go around the constitution, trying to not follow those constitutional mandates. So, that’s an important part of our history. And then related to that, it’s Isabel Wilkerson’s, The Warmth of Other Suns in which she talks about the black migration from the South to the North, which was immediately following what I would consider the failure of reconstruction because of the unwillingness to abide by the laws that were put there.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
In some ways, I think we’re beginning a new reconstruction era. And the question is, will we have people to try to circumvent that, like they did the original one? Or are we at the point now in this country where there are enough voices, not just African American voices and a few other voices out there, but enough voices to help us to move forward and will the church be in the center of this? Because I’ve always felt like the church has always been a key to this country in a lot of different places and a lot of different issues, but particularly in this issue and how do we as a church and those who are trained to be leaders in the church help to move us all forward?

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Joe, you expressed exactly what I’ve been thinking. I haven’t heard anyone else talk about it regarding the reconstruction. And I thought in a sense, here’s our new opportunity again. And again, those very words that you just said they’ve been in my heart. Is the church going to stand up this time or are we going to go back again? And are we going to stand up for justice and righteousness? And are there enough strong voices that will move us in this direction? Yes, that has been in my mind a lot recently. Well, Howard Thurman is a person that I love to read. And I’ve just been reading again about his whole piece about hate, how hate can destroy us and then certainly Martin Luther King’s works.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
But I’ve also been intrigued with the whole piece of black spirituality and Barbara Holmes book on Joy Unspeakable. And she goes clear back to the 1700s and talks the hush arbors and down in South Carolina where they would hang up the heavy blankets. And so, they could pray and pray for God to deliver them from this. And I think about that, I cry again because in my history and my church Wesleyan Church, we were abolitionist. And so, the abolitionists started in the mid 1800s. And I think of all that they did, and there was a statement made in North Carolina that there were not enough nooses to hang all the Wesleyans they wanted to hang. But you know what we failed after that, we went back into our own corner.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
We didn’t follow on through after those times. But I also think about when she writes about those prayers, I thought about that God did answer those prayers. A 100 years later, or 80 years later maybe is the long prayer. But I think about those enslaved folks who were praying in the hush arbor, and God heard their prayer and people responded. So, I thought since that time, okay, we praise our abolitionist, but they’re real people to be praised for the enslaved people that were praying in the hush arbors in South Carolina.

Mr. Steve Moore:
Jo Anne let me just say these two more words to add to what you had said. I’m sitting here in Oklahoma now and we just got to remembering the 99th Anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre. And next year we’ll be celebrating the 100th Anniversary. I say celebration, but we’ll be recognizing, because there’s nothing celebrate because 300 people were killed during that time of discontent. But our annual conference is planning on meeting over in Tulsa. We normally meet in Oklahoma City because it’ll be around the same time as that anniversary. And one of the things that we’re pushing the conference to, as I am and several others is that we do more than just remember, we do more than just go there and say, “Yeah, we’re sorry.” All the things that we say without voice, but we do something with our deeds.

Mr. Steve Moore:
We’re having this discussion about reparations and what that might mean. And I know that’s very controversial because people tend to say, “Well, I didn’t have anything to do with that, so why am I paying for their mistakes?” But theologically, we always pay for our sins. And sometimes it goes through generations. So, one of the questions I think we have to ask ourselves and we’ll ask ourselves when we open Tulsa next year, “What can we do that will be a positive rather than just saying, we’re sorry? Can we create scholarships? Can we be able to invest somewhere? How can we help to move, as I said earlier, to move things forward in the midst of all this? That’s where you break that traditions and you break up institutions and things that have always been saying, you do something different and something new that will cause a renewal.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Excellent. I agree.

Dr. Joseph Harris:
I’ll mention just a couple of things that haven’t been mentioned yet. I love the resources that they’ve been mentioned. They’re fantastic ones. But I’ll mention just a couple more. One is the poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar is an amazing poet and just as ways of turning phrases, that really are fantastic. Second is a book and I was looking, I have in my library, I was just going to pull it off as a book called Living the Questions by Jeffrey Keuss. Jeff Keuss is a professor at Seattle Pacific University, terrific guy and just worth connecting with as well. I think it would be great if we could, maybe just each of us submit two or three things to you, Donna, that maybe we could put at the end of this webinar and just as potential resources because I think that’s so important to do.

Rev. Donna Covington:
And I will welcome that even if we don’t get them all in time for when we’re going to air this video. We can go back and put them up on our website and other places so that people have resources. There are a lot of questions around, “What can I do? How do I use my voice?” And this begins to help people start a journey. Steve, I love what you said about conversations. Can I embark and go into places that make me uncomfortable to talk with people that I may not be comfortable with and have a safe place? You guys have been just a great joy to be with today. Believe it or not, our time is coming to a close. So, if I could try to summarize, and I’m not sure I can do it well, you have given us a blueprint.

Rev. Donna Covington:
I mean, we started this with, We lament, we feel that deep, deep pain and anguish of the loss of life. We go to that place and we cry out to God. We go in prayer and we ask God for his guidance and for his leadership, for the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us during times of crisis. Then as we cry out to God and we express our anger, we know that God hears us. He gives us hope that the Bible says, “He bends His ear to hear our prayer.” But we also become people of action. We start to do things different. We engage in conversations and give people safe spaces to say things that may not be comfortable, or they can’t say them right. Had a student email me today and said, “I may not say this right.” I had to write her back and said, “You said it perfect.”

Rev. Donna Covington:
We have to encourage people that when you don’t have the right words, help people as leaders. And I believe that we’re at a pivotal point in our nation, a place that we’ve never been before. I don’t know about you guys, but I remember growing up with the riots of the 60s and Martin Luther King and many of the things that we’ve seen. But in my spirit, Jo Anne, this feels different. We have seen police officers charged with crimes that we haven’t seen before.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
That’s right.

Rev. Donna Covington:
And so, you all are helping us process our way through how we’re going to lead at this Kairos moment that the Lord has given us. So, I’m going to give you one more question because all of you serve at Asbury, all of you are part of the board. And our role at the seminary is to equip and to prepare men and women academically, but also spirit filled and sanctified to go out and spread the gospel. So, if we could wrap up our leadership remarks, and this has been wonderful with just, what would you say to students who are going to be traversing their way through this right now, through this crisis who are here being equipped and prepared, an answering the call of God on their life, as leaders, experienced leaders, what would you speak into them at this time?

Dr. Joseph Harris:
If I were to sum it up and I had a student sitting in front of me now, I would encourage that person to develop relationships, particularly with a person that doesn’t look like you. And then I would also encourage them to become advocates for the poor and those who are oppressed, those who are left out of society, because they’re often the ones that suffer the worst during times like this. I would also have them to teach and be a teacher, both in their church and other places that they go so that they can teach Christians and others, how to be truly reconciled, how to be advocates for justice and how to speak out for all those who suffer atrocities throughout the world.

Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon:
Joe, you just said my heart and what I believe. And I think that’s the leadership that we need to have our students. And then, and then I would couple that with what Steve said regarding, I think Eisenhower said it about, you’re planning because I’ve seen many leaders have a great plan and they do plan at the expense of everybody because that’s their plan. And they aren’t listening in the process. We are in process, as we are leading, we are in process what our grand plan may have to change. And we have another plan that’s at that time. So, it would be what you’d said and then to be in the process of planning as we’re leading.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Great.

Mr. Steve Moore:
Chuck, I’ll let you go next.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
First thing I would tell them to do is to develop a diligent and a constant prayer life, to be close to God, to allow God to speak into their hearts and into their minds. And the second thing I think I would say is, and I think I shared this with Donna a couple of days ago. My son said to me, on one occasion, he said, “There is no comfort in our growth zone and there is no growth in our comfort zone.” So, I would encourage them to move into a place where they feel uncomfortable and begin to work through those kinds of things with somebody who doesn’t look like them or somebody who’s culturally different than they are. And I guess that would be be the thing that I would say to them.

Mr. Steve Moore:
I love that. I love all those so much. I just think of Micah six, seven, and eight, “Do justice, have mercy, walk humbly with the Lord.” And I think that we’re all being formed and hopefully being formed in the likeness of Christ so that each of us will be a unique unrepeatable expression of the miracle of God in flesh working and living on this earth. And so, I think that’s our call and it’s a long obedience in the same direction. I’ll just echo that great Eugene Peterson and Ecclesiastes these phrase one more time.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
One of the things… I’m sorry go ahead, Donna.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Go ahead, Chuck.

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
I was just going to say one of the passages of scripture that came to my mind as we were going through this, is the one that comes from Isaiah 59, where it speaks about justice being far off and truth having stumbled in the marketplace. And I think that’s a place that we are, but even Isaiah ends up with hope on the other end of that.

Mr. Steve Moore:
Chuck, don’t you think we’re in a moment where a lot of people despair and that the hope that we have is such an opportune moment in our culture. Don’t you think?

Rev. Dr. Charles Savage:
Absolutely. As Joe said so we are not Good Friday people, were Easter Sunday morning people, and that makes all the difference in the world. We know how the story ends.

Mr. Steve Moore:
That’s a good one, I like that.

Rev. Donna Covington:
Well, I’m going to wrap us up here, because that’s a great note to end on. I want to say, thank you so much to all of you for sharing your hearts, for sharing your experience with us today. And for those watching, I hope that you’ve been blessed, that you were able to get resources and tools and ways for you to lead as you’re going through these current events. Let’s be sure that we’re sharing and talking with each other, and we’re leading in a way, and we’re listening in a way, that is inclusive of the body of Christ to give God honor. Thank you for joining us today and I hope you will continue to join us as we continue in conversations around the church and race. God bless you.

Heidi Wilcox:
Hey, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s community conversation on race, discussing kingdom leadership, hosted by Reverend Donna Covington. The next three episodes that are also out on our podcast today, continue the conversation discussing in two parts, theology and race in church leadership. So. make sure to give a listen to the rest of those in this series. And if you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe to our podcast in your favorite podcast player. And follow us in all the places on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @asburyseminary. Until next time, have a great day y’all and go do something that helps you thrive.