Dear Fremont Family:

Okay, I admit it. I really love having time with the children on Sunday mornings. I have always loved kids, and I absolutely love sharing with them the delight of church. Do you still delight in church? I hope so. As soon as our faith feels like obligation or duty, we have lost the joy and the power of the good news of Jesus. I hope you are beginning to see the significance of our summer theme, “Joy as Resistance.” Namely, these are very hard days. We are facing multiple crises (economic, environmental, political) with overwhelming amounts of bad news. Hopelessness is easy. Joy is a choice.

This past Sunday, someone said to me, “Okay, I think I am beginning to get it. I didn’t really get the theme for the first couple of weeks, but I am beginning to see how joy can be resistance.” It’s an important comment. I told her that often in predominantly white communities, we don’t get it. Our Black and Indigenous siblings, our Queer and Trans siblings understand this theme more inherently than we do because marginalized communities have had to depend on joy for their survival. White privilege has shielded us from certain kinds of suffering, and only now are we beginning to name the comprehensive reality of the negative impacts of white supremacy on us all. Now, more than ever, the church needs to listen and learn from our marginalized siblings who reflect back to us their profound experiences of the joy of the Lord.

This summer, I hope we will practice joy together, not just talk about it on Sunday mornings. I hope we will do it and grow our joy together in our community throughout the week so that we will discover the power of joy to lead us through these difficult days. To that end, allow me to invite you to the church this Friday, June 14 at 3pm to help us give out ice cream to the neighborhood children being dismissed from school for the summer. It’s very simple. We just stand on the corner of NE 27th and Fremont St. and offer ice cream (a variety of frozen options) to the parents and children celebrating the end of the school year. Believe me, ice cream always incites joy (even for the parents!)

Also, next Wednesday, is Juneteenth. The celebration of when the Emancipation Proclamation really became the law of the land for freed slaves in 1865 (2 years after the original proclamation in 1863). Our Bishop, Rev. Cedrick Bridgeforth, will be throwing out the first pitch at the Portland Pickles Baseball game here in Portland. Ticket purchases will go to benefit the Voices Project led by our friend and brother, Dr. Leroy Barber. The Voices Project offers training and scholarships for leadership development for young Black leaders. What better way to have an evening of joy than together in community in support of an incredible cause? Here is the link to purchase tickets: Charlie and I will be at the game, and we would love to have lots of our Fremont family turn out for the fun.

In the meantime, what are other ways we might share joy together this summer? Maybe we should ask our children? I bet you they would have LOTS of great ideas. Here’s to a wonderful summer of joy!

Grace and peace,