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Faith of A Mustard Seed

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

A 2023 comment on Facebook returned as a 1 year memory; which I had written: Ever since the church powers that be requested by Letter that I returned my credentials to them, it has been my prayer that the people of God come into the full knowledge of the fact that the church does not belong to the powers and principalities who hold sway over it; and to reclaim the churches across this nation that our ancestors (check the Deeds —public record ) built …from the pew !  Yeah!  That’s the ticket: Reclamation Reformation 2023  …from the pew 2023.  Exhaling… now.

This “Greatest Loss of the Church: The Children” continues as Priority One in a 2024 Black Church Reformation.  “Summer Vacation Bible School”.

I could never know if the Churches in my Central Avenue-Quincy Avenue community of Cleveland’s East Side, ever communicated with each other which “Two Weeks” they would schedule their Vacation Bible School.  My Grandmama KNEW!  Every day, all summer long, while other children spent their summers “Down South”; we were put out the house and sent to Vacation Bible School.  When it ended on Friday at one Church, come Monday morning She KNEW where too… next.  As my siblings and cousins began to find ‘somewhere else to go’ as their church rebellion began, I appeared to be the only one who feared my ‘Mama Ruth’s whippings’.

Sooo how did Dr. Lowery know this?  I still can’t figure that out?? But his 2nd assignment for me while in Seminary and Student Pastoral Ministry at Central Church, Atlanta was: #1) from my 2nd Sunday at Central he said: “I got some teen-agers running around this Church. They can’t keep no Teacher. Find them and Teach them.”  So first was my 3 years in Seminary teaching the Senior High Sunday School Class. Then #2) came Summer and he said, “I want you to do the Vacation Bible School”. How HE know!

When I graduated Seminary, I had received my Ordination as Deacon in The North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I had by now come into the fullness of the need for “Full-time” Children AND Youth Ministers in the Church.  I wrote my District Superintendent and Bishop requesting that my First Pastoral Appointment be either or both.  Only to learn that there was no such appointment to be made in Black Methodist Church, Georgia.  Imma let that sit for a few!  The fact that EVEN IN 2024, there is STILL… no such appointment as full-time “Children’s Pastor” nor “Youth Pastor” to be made in… The Black Church!

So, I was appointed Pastor to the Gordon Road, Atlanta Church.  This was in the middle of what is now known as the “Atlanta Child Murders”.  In ‘real time’ for us, it was a war being waged by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference known as “The Missing and Murdered Children’s Crisis”.  Can you hear me now? I repeat: The “Greatest Loss of the Church: The Children”.   Awaken to this… FROM THE PEW… as “Priority One in a 2024 Black Church Reformation”.

What I saw then is the same thing that I had yet to comprehend; this fact of Black Church life’s inability to put it’s money where it’s mouth is —in the need for salvation for this newest generation.  And so along with my Pastoral Responsibilities at my ‘First Church’, Gordon Road, Atlanta, I DID Children’s and Youth Ministries from 9am-5pm… all summer long… and Saturdays during the school year. —during the missing and murdered children’s crisis.

It must be said, HERE and NOW: “TIME OUT for volunteer workers with the children in the church.  Full time Children’s Pastors and full time Children’s Ministries ARE REQUIRED to meet the ever growing needs and demands and complexities of the lives of children in our times.

I’m thinking that you have not even seen the number of children who committed suicide last year AND already in 2024?  The New Yorker reported in 2022 by this Title: “The Mystifying Rise of Child Suicide”.  That “search diligently” part that demands The Church to ‘throw out the lifeline of salvation’ —that “another Way” which only The Church can do!

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