Mission 2017 Supplemental: Why We Do What We Do


I thought I’d take a pause midway through the week to write about the “Why” behind this mission trip. After all, we got underway with a pretty sparse post and here we are, halfway in without much context, save for those who are here and/or who have sent loved ones. And with that, let’s take a moment to explore why we’re here and why we’re doing what we’re doing in Washington, D.C. and Steubenville, Ohio.
Rev. Lyndy Zabel is the Director of Missional Impact for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Through his office, he helps steer the Conference’s connections with outreach ministries and partnerships across the nation and the world. Through a Conference grant, Pastor Lyndy hoped to revive an old Conference tradition of bringing young people out east for a taste of faith meets politics. When I found out this trip to Washington, D.C. would happen during the same week that Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church traditionally goes on a mission trip, I spoke with my team about the possibility, and here we are. It’s a Conference-wide trip with teens and adults from at least six churches coming together.
This mission trip has three distinct mission fields: justice, compassion, and community. Here’s the context that participants and their families received before departure:

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Mission 2017 Day 4, Part 1: The Poetry of Community

Let’s wrap up Day 4 with a few poems and a walk – and bike ride – around the National Mall. Justice with Enjambment Our seminar concluded with a poetry workshop led by R. Kayeen Thomas. Yes, you read that right, Dear Reader, a poetry workshop. To wrap up our time together, this Washington, D.C. … Read more Mission 2017 Day 4, Part 1: The Poetry of Community

Mission 2017 Day 4, Part 1: The Poetry of Repentance

On our last full day in Washington, D.C., we explored anti-racism attitude and tactics, considered ideas of equity, wrote poems, and split into groups on the National Mall for a night of fun. Like yesterday’s update, today was chock-full and will need to come in two parts. So here is Day 4, Part 1: The … Read more Mission 2017 Day 4, Part 1: The Poetry of Repentance

Mission 2017 Day 3, Part 2: The American Art of Militarism

Day Three continued with a story about running for your life, story in the form of many mediums of art, and a story of how to balance faith, power, and allegiance. In other words, a refugee, an artist, and a chaplain walk into a bar…
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Our final speaker for our first day of seminars at the United Methodist Building was a young man named Engoma Fataki, an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has spent a majority of his life living in various refugee camps. For those keeping track at home, Engoma first entered a refugee camp at age 5. He’s 19 now. Engoma is working with GBCS as a student in the Ethnic Young Adult Intern Cohort, a ministry designed for young people to explore their faith while they work with an organization focused on social justice. What we heard today was his personal witness.
In his story, there are many tents, many pieces of trash, and not much else. That’s the

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Mission 2017 Day 3, Part 1: The American Art of Migration

It was a packed first full day in Washington, D.C., Dear Reader, so packed today’s post comes in two parts. In Part 1, you’ll learn about our first seminars, guest speakers, and impromptu worship services. In Part 2, you’ll hear about our trip to an art gallery and our conversation with a chaplain. But for now, let’s start with a little something called The Social Principles…
“Social” Before “Social Media”
United Methodists have long taken a stand on issues impacting real people around the world. Through our Book of Discipline, we lay out all the rules and policies for our denomination: how we organize our structure (polity), what parameters there are for ordination (plenty), and there’s a place for taking a stand on justice (policy). That place is the Social Principles, a series of statements the UMC has made over the years addressing topics from war to hunger, from human rights to agriculture, from media violence to racism. Each statement names the challenge to society and goes on to offer a denominational opinion or position.
Now, not every United Methodist agrees with every word of the Social Principles. But that’s not the point. Rather, this is a series of statements we point to as a means of saying that, by and large, our church stands for these sorts of ways of God’s loving justice to enter the world and we believe it is in these particular ways. These statements belong to the church, so much like a creed, we can trust that at any given point, there are people in the church who believe in them and will go to bat for them. It’s the most malleable piece of the Discipline we have (it’s also the least binding) and if ever there was a “living document” portion to how we come together this is

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