This Sunday like no other has filled my heart with reminders of Florida where Rhoda and I lived for 56 years. And our eighty degree weather with a bright sun was not the main reminder although it feels good.
The reminding began with the news of the massacre in Orlando bar of twenty deaths, later raised to 50 known dead.
Madeline Maldonado is our pastor at College Mennonite for this month during pastor Phil Waite’s sabbatical. Madeline and her husband are pastors of Arca de Salvacion, CMC’s sister congregation in Fort Myer’s, Florida. So her ministry served a reminder of Florida.
Marco Guete, Conference Minister of the Southeast Conference, preached for us in Spanish while Madeline interpreted. I served in a de facto role of Conference Minister while doing what needed to be done as the conference’s first General Secretary. Madaline’s husband, David. was was a visitor this Sunday. I consider Guete as somewhat of a successor. His presence was a Florida reminder.
The pastors of Spanish churches were on retreat at Goshen College this weekend so meeting Juanita and Eligio Nunes, pastors of the Iglesia Cristiana Ebenezer, a Mennonite (MCUSA) church in Apopka, FL was another Florida reminder.
I was somewhat involved in the beginning of these two churches and enjoy learning of their far reaching ministries. Juanita’s uncle, Wilson Reyes, was a friend and pastor that I could always depend on.
When I spoke to these five friends from Florida about the news I had heard from Florida that morning, they were surprised and dismayed. Today I read an opinion published in The Mennonite written by a pastor with close connection with the LGBTQ community. Her heart was broken to the point of anger as she reflected on the Mennonite Church’s role in its discriminatory actions toward gays and lesbians. It is time that we hear and act with the heart of the welcome we profess.
You all know I am 90 years old. I read face book. Ignoring the hurt of LGBTQ people and the anger of the young toward the institutional church is not exceptable.