So much has changed this year,
but God remains the same.
Now ... and forever!
The Rocky Mountain American Baptist
A Newsletter of the American Baptist Churches of the Rocky Mountains
Pushing "PLAY" after such a long PAUSE
Note: This edition of our newsletter was originally planned to promote and highlight our September 2020 Gathering.
But like so many other things, our plans were impacted by COVID-19 … plans not just for this newsletter, but also for our Gathering. So the theme changed from “The Gathering” to our “Regathering.”
Our Gathering committee “regathered” their plans and are planning a wonderful, virtual event with the theme of Ruach: breath, wind, spirit. Mike Oldham has written a wonderful article that describes the plans that are being made and a reminder for you to save the date.
Many of our congregations are “regathering” as stay-at-home orders are loosened. You will want to read some of the stories and things to consider as you and your congregation move ahead with your plans.
Social activists, protestors, law enforcement, politicians and indeed people from all walks of life have “regathered” to express their frustration with the continued loss of life of Black Men through encounters with police. These are but an expression of greater concerns about racial injustice that continues to perpetuate itself and feels as if we have stepped back instead of forward.
So, we hope you will appreciate what we have written and especially appreciate the hardwork and the wonderful progress that Brian Keithline has made in revamping our Regional Communications. I and the rest of the staff, truly appreciate his expertise, knowledge and hard work!
-- (Steve Van O and the ABCRM Staff).
About this month's edition
What's in this bimonthly issue?
The Whispering Arch, ABCRM and Racism
I don’t remember why we were in downtown St. Louis that day… we were probably entertaining out-of-town guests… but for whatever reasons, we found ourselves at St. Louis’s Union Station and entering its grand entry. One of my children previously had been on a field trip there and knew the story of “The Whispering Arch,” an architectural phenomenon of the 40-plus foot wide opening off the main hall.
According to legend, during its construction, it had been discovered that any particular sound would travel through the arch from one side to the other.
Apparently, when someone dropped a hammer at one side while working on the arch, the noise was “trapped” in the arch and traveled the length of its width to the other side. Of course, they also later discovered that you can stand and whisper into the wall on one side and hear the whisper on the other, even over the noise of the hustle and bustle outside.
While interesting, it is not unique. There are “whispering arches” all around the world. It is simply a matter of science as to how they work, but it does require certain key elements … not something of which architects necessarily plan for … especially today. But, it still makes for a very enjoyable phenomenon when these conditions are achieved.
So why am I talking about an obtuse architectural characteristic of some old buildings?
Well, it seems an apt metaphor for the situation we find ourselves in here, and around the country.
You see, this feature allows two groups of people (separated by distance) both to speak and also to hear each other above the din and business that surrounds them. This “background noise” would normally prevent normal, direct communication and understanding between the groups. But the wonders of our world provided them with a way… an unusual way … to communicate.
Similarly, there exists in our culture today, groups of people separated by their race, culture and experience that need to communicate with one another at a deep level. But the cacophony of our culture seems to keep one another from hearing the depth and the core of each other’s concerns, experiences and heartaches. The “truth” that these groups possess individually need to be cultured, amended and matured by the “truths” that other groups possess. These groups need to work together to discover a more complete truth, to build consensus on the challenges that can be addressed and understanding about those that are beyond us at this time.
But the cacophony of the hustle and bustle around us prevents this from happening. The frustrated emotions pour out in protests, anger and unfortunately destruction from all sides … not just one. If only there were something that would allow the whispers of truth that come out from them to be amplified and communicated in a manner so that they could be heard by everyone. If only these “whispers” could grow into heart-felt conversations.
And maybe, just maybe, ABCRM has the unique organizational structure, demographic make-up and available resources to be the archway that serves to create the communication and cooperation to address one another’s concerns, hear the hearts of the other and begin to build bridges, dig tunnels and teardown the walls and sub-structures of racism in our culture.
That at least is the dream that we share and why our Executive Committee has authorized not only the creation of an on-going task force (we are well aware that this is not a one and done proposition!). It is why they have authorized the appointment of a part-time staff person to be the staff’s team leader in these efforts (see the appointment announcement in this newsletter) and unanimously proclaimed that this must be one of our region’s core foci going forward.
But the “Whispering Arch” does not whisper by itself … it depends on the whispers of the families, friends and other people who pass through the station taking time to stop and to give it a try.
And so, too, must our efforts going forward in order to make a dent in the problems of racism in the U.S. and around the world. And though our efforts can only do so much in a very small part of our world, just like the whispering arches … ours will not be the only ones being made.
Surely a Master Architect that created the beauty of our natural monuments, such as the mountains, has built enough “arches” to get the job done!