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Mike Denton calls for adapting, preparation

In the closing worship for the Leadership Retreat, Conference Minister Mike Denton reminded participants that Rosa Parks’ sitting on the bus was not a random incident. It grew from 10 years of discussion about the need for someone to be arrested to challenge segregation on busses and in public accommodations. 

Mike Denton
Mike Denton

Organizers wanted someone who would be a symbol to show how unfair the segregation was.

“Rosa Parks was part of those discussions for a year when she went on the bus and refused to move.  She was moved to say ‘no’ to the system,” Mike said.  “The spontaneous part was that she was sitting in a seat that overlapped the section where whites could ask her to leave.  The bus was not crowded, and she did not leave the section.  The system was ready to move.  The Spirit moves when people are ready to move, usually after discussions and conversations.

“At times, we throw out the seed, and the sun, water, rain and systems are in place and ready to move.  When we as the church—local, regional, national, ecumenical and interfaith—plan, we may be surprised with the end results,” he said. 

“We have to be adaptable to the way the church and technology change.  When we move and grow, we do not know what harvest we will reap, but we trust it will be something we need—enough,” he continued.

When the bus boycott started, the people did not know how it would progress, what changes would happen or that changes would happen as fast as they did,” he explained.  “They still did the preparation. 

“Preparation makes us more adaptable to find new things about ourselves, to recognize our limits and to seek new ways to work in the limits of the system so we can find what is possible and move to a solution.

Ron Blake and Tara Barber share communion during the closing service.

“Meetings are sometimes frustrating and discouraging, but then the Holy Spirit revives us,” Mike said.  “In the next few years, the work we do may make us tired and frustrated.  In the same ways the Spirit was present with Rosa Parks and our forebears moving across the waters, the Spirit is present in this place.”

Participants then offered prayers for themselves, the church and the world.  Their prayers, Mike said, were reminders of the breath of the Spirit, the prophets and apostles, and those who have spread the word through the ages—teachers pastors, parents, people who “moved us on the path of faith.”

Closing with communion, he reminded the leaders gathered that the bread and cup mean many things:  “Think of the challenges and what we are called to offer.”

Copyright © September 2009 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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