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Faith of A Mustard Seed

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

If I were to take out a “WANT AD” – subtle enough to reach those of apathy who quietly or, perhaps even foolishly seek employment; or, if I could placed a “WANTED” Poster in the POST Office indicating a ‘Menace to Society’ a threat of endangerment to community life… issued by the JUSTICE SYSTEM to identify the person they WANT; Dead or Alive —I would simply write: “WANTED!  A WISE MAN!”

Shifting to the “Demonstrative”.  That mode that no longer uses ‘honey’ to catch flies.  That place that disrupts the pseudo normal and paranormal states that people work so hard to BE in this current Nation of ‘denial existence’.  No longer begging, no longer pleading when it comes to the “Greatest Loss of The Black Church”: THE CHILDREN!”  Shifting to the demonstrative to shatter this false narrative that the Church is transmitting in 2024 to pews… empty of… children.  “WANTED!  First in the Church… A WISE MAN!”

Recapitulating: “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!”

I’ll just get REALly REAL Demonstrative!  This NATION has the ‘National Center for Juvenile Justice’; the ‘National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’; the ‘Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’. (Note: it is here that the delinquency of Children ARE NOT separate from the delinquency of Youth.  The continued need to advocate for this separation of these two as ‘generational needs’ is self evident).  JUST know that children are being treated as Adults, that ‘Adultification’ of 5 year olds is… anathema.  But, since the Black Church CANNOT see the ‘demonstrative nature of this lifeLINE and death crisis’, I return to the state. 

There is the ‘Center for Juvenile Justice Reform’ ; the ‘National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice’, the ‘National Juvenile Defender Center’ and the ‘National ‘Youth Screening and Assessment Project’  Do you hear me now?  “WANTED!  FIRST in the Church… A WISE MAN!”  Not 3… “Just One!”

So these National Programs in HIGH GEAR TOWARDS children and youth,  employ Sentencing Co-ordinators, Youth Advocate Clinicians, Juvenile Diversion Counselors, Victim Impact/Victim Offender Mediators, Anger Management Psychologists, Child Management/Child Advocacy Counselors —I keep hearing this “lone voice out in this wilderness of Black Church saying, “well my Church has a Youth…”  Is he paid to do fulll time ministry to the Children and Youth?”  Are the doors of YOUR church opened EVERY DAY for children to come inside?  Is your Church’s money serving… ‘two masters.”  No children in the Church?  You Love one and you Hate the other!

In 2018, after having put proposals in front of several Pastors to do Children’s and Youth Ministries  during my now 25 years living in Nashville as a Master of Divinity, it had not come into fruition.  Within a couple of days I realized that I had just been ‘called’ into the most powerful ministry to children that I had witnessed in many, many, many years… Ms. Brenda and her “Bus Stop Strong” after school, NO,  BEFORE and after school program in that she began this program at the ‘Bus Stop” in the morning and during the now Six Years, the doors of the Andrew Jackson Community Center had been opened for her to shelter, feed, love, care, encourage, tutor and more —the children of Andrew Jackson when she met them at the bus stop returning from school.

My second invitation, after being told that ‘the children asked when I was coming back” gave me purpose for the concept “Innocence”.  In preparation, just as before, I copied the Text: “I will maintain my innocence, and never let go of it.” and attached the Verse to the Pops.  But, upon arrival I saw no children.  I was met by Two adult who began a series of questions when I entered, making the demand that I complete their paperwork in order to be in the bldg.  As I sat down across the room I explained that I was here by invitation of Ms. Brenda and that as soon as she arrived I would comply.  They persisted and told me that I would have to leave if I did not do what they asked.  I told them again that I was not here for them.  They threatened to call the Police to have me removed.  In my confusion over what was happening, I deemed it necessary for me to… walk away.

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