Mission: to Amplify Compassion by amplifying marginalized voices in our community, including those marginalized by their race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, or any others searching for equity. We will help challenge our congregation to amplify justice, mercy, and humility to create a more compassionate church.
Reflection – by Emily Tolsma
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” (Psalm 107:19 )
I can think of a lot of things and activities we’ve all surrendered or given up over the past year. Instead of thinking about the things we didn’t do last year, I started writing a list of 2020 “Firsts”…the first time I’ve gone all year without having to put on a bathing suit, the first time I played a card game with a dog, the first time I had to figure out ways to learn, teach, work, and lead remotely, etc. Looking back on the year, these are ways that God saved me from the distress of everything going on. I came to peace knowing that it wasn’t all surrender; there were a lot of firsts in 2020. I’ve learned to communicate with and trust in my teammates, colleagues, family members, and friends in different ways than I’ve had to before. I wrote a lengthy letter to a close friend when her dad died, and no one could attend his memorial, when what I really wanted to do was put everything down, drive to Pittsboro and be a physical comfort to her and her family. This pandemic has done a lot to us over the past year, but we’re entering a season of hope. There are, however, many people in our community who are not hopeful, who are distrustful, who are living scared.
Recently I attended a webinar with several community and healthcare leaders discussing apprehension around the COVID-19 vaccine in communities of color. One of the speakers brought up this verse and talked about the African-American culture of faith and how many believe that faith goes hand in hand with a lack of belief in science. Some patients refuse to go to the hospital because they trust God rather than healthcare workers to heal. Some of these patients are my coworkers' parents; they are among the most vulnerable in our community. I understand that a lot of this hesitation that stems from history, the stories of the Tuskegee experiment, and Henrietta Lacks, to name a couple of the most well-known ways that we as a country have mistreated our Black citizens. The medical and science communities are trying to right their wrongs in this space, but the distrust remains. I struggle with the hesitation that there is more trust in God to heal than in science; maybe my faith is not strong enough, and I need to spend more time with this verse. I find comfort in believing that science and faith can both live and be true. They are not opposites of each other. I find hope in hearing in a widely watched webinar that Black and Hispanic clergy encourage their congregations to trust the science and get the vaccine when it is time. Friends, we have a long way to go. There is a low uptake among people who are eligible for the vaccine. Of those who have had the vaccine in North Carolina, about 80% of them are white. This is not representative of the population. Only 63% of North Carolina’s population is white. I have had several conversations with people to try to dispel the myths, understand why they are hesitant, and urge them to move the needle towards hope. This year is the first time I’ve had an opportunity to have this conversation, and I hope that changing one person’s mind will lead to changing others, lead to a summer where I can begrudgingly put on a bathing suit, and not have to play any more Old Maid with the dog.
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