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Nov 13, 2018

The Rev. Dr. Patience Kisakye, from Uganda, serving in the Upper New York area of the United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko, President of the African Clergywomen Association (from CongoDR serving in the West Ohio Conference), explain the purpose of the African United Methodist Clergywomen Association, and how it is helping build and shape African congregations and the communities while enhancing the participation of women, children, and youth who make up the majority of the population on the continent and across the church.

(VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT)

FULL TRANSCRIPT

When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal podcast where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives. They speak grace and compassion. They share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now.

00:35     Claim who we are in Christ, by the Reverend Patience Kisakye, who is a member of the Upper New York area of the United Methodist Church. And the Reverend J. Kabamba Kiboko, of the West Ohio area of the United Methodist Church.

00:53     First of all, we want to “Asante Sana” to the general Board of high Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church, for inviting a diverse group of women, including Kabamba and myself to participate in the 2018 edition of the wellSprings Journal.

01:15     'Asante sana' is an expression in the Swahili language, which means 'Thank you very much.' So, again, asante sana for making room for the participation of African clergy women. The Rev. Kabamba Kiboko, PhD and I, are privileged to join a multitude of distinguished voices that have and continue to encounter the divine word of god.

01:42     We make our way into the 2018 WellSprings Journal at a time when the rationale for the African clergy women's theological discourse is rooted in a plethora of theological exercises that seek to; one, build and shape African congregations and the communities within which they are located. Two, enhance the participation of women, children and youth who make the majority of the population on the continent of Africa and across the church.

02:17     Three, celebrate cultural diversity and build bridges across cultures in theological understandings. Four, promote freedom and demand transparency and accountability as well as disclosure balanced with support. And five, challenge injustice and encouraged justice.

02:42     It is therefore imperative to point out right from the onset that the African United Methodist Clergy women association which we represent, is an association whose aim is to promote theological discourse rooted in the word that became flesh and now dwells among us, embedded in Wesleyan Theology through African peoples' lenses. This Mother Africa Clergy Women's organization, ministers with women on the continent and in the diaspora. Engage in theological education as well as gender and identity issues affecting the body of Christ on the continent and beyond.

03:28     It promotes theological discourse, clergy growth and development. And encourages and strengthens the church on the continent at a time when the stakes for humanity are high, among others, because the skills to amass wealth and profits are prioritized over and against the essential values of practicing responsible neighborliness. We therefore want this multifaceted temple, this world, to be filled with infinite opportunities. We want the human spirit that is housed in the temple to be envelope in creative potential, and also to be designated as a house of prayer and offer place to begin life a new, and to celebrate it.

04:16     In reflecting upon the temple we should think of Israel's history, where we are reminded of the first chapter of Haggai. The people returned to Jerusalem with spirituality in the forefront of their minds, but with time, they forecast less on God and more on themselves. The problem here is that the people neglected God's house. They left it in ruins while they built their own homes, their own fields, and lived comfortably in a drug culture.

04:52     Like the Israelites, God's house today is virtually ignored, if not a pit stop, while a few show up once in a while to pray, the majority continue to live in the bondage of sin. The Israelites rejoiced that the Lord had set them free from the bondage of the Egyptians, and enabled them to return to Jerusalem.

05:17     God is still setting the hostages free, restoring the sick to health, opening blind eyes, and announcing good news to the poor. Regrettably, in the midst of all this, the world continues to cast the blind eye and a deaf ear to the Lord's house. After all, the temple is located in an increasingly consumeristic and individualistic society. More often than not, people housed in the temple get discouraged from the ministry of building. There are forces and principalities that get in the way of building the temple. Some get discouraged because they want what they want when they want it, in a microwave culture. And when that doesn't happen they walk away.

06:09     The ancient words of Haggai written during the sixth century BC, continue to speak to the African clergy women in the 21st century. They have the power to transport us to the place where we claim who we are in Christ. Thus, we view this writing moment as a safari, which is the Swahili word for journey. Into the story of our own calling in light of these ancient words found in Haggai. So, welcome.

06:42     As we enter the Hebrew text of Haggai in both chapters one and two, we see one sign that reads “hayah dvar adonia byad haggai” in Hebrew, 'And the word of the Lord was in the hand of Haggai,' in English. The Book of Haggai highlights the significance of the presence of the word by placing it at the entrance. The beginning of chapter's one and two. The first chapter begins with, "In the second year of the king Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord was higher by the prophet Haggai.

07:24     The second chapter opens with, "In the second year of King Darius, in the seventh month, the word of the Lord was higher by the prophet Haggai. The verb 'higher' used in association with the word of the Lord occurs at least 27 times, throughout the Hebrew Bible, in addition to the uses cited above.

07:49     Throughout our safari the signs show that the word of the Lord or the Word of God is present. In light of this, we will describe the global village in which we live and then identify the evils as we see, hear, feel and understand them, and name how many continue to embrace the future in relationship to the past.

08:15     The question from our theme: ho is left among you that saw this house in its former glory will be discussed in relationship to the spirit of Sankofa. Sankofa is an Akan word that calls us to go back and reclaim our past, so that we can then move forward. It is an invitation to understand why and how we came to be who we are today.

08:42     The spirit of Sankofa is symbolized in an image of a bird whose head is faced in the opposite direction of its body. This is to call attention to the fact that even as the bird is moving forward, it has a responsibility to pause and reflect from where it has been to ensure a better future. Therefore, the house's former glory and the remnants, the faithful few who returned that may have bore witness to the past, unnecessary aspects of the house's future.

09:18     To this end, Native American Indians might say, "A people without history is like the wind on the buffalo crass." And because the people of Israel have a history lived in the Exodus, the timeline in the text leads to the next question. How does it look to you now? The remnants observations of the former house in the story must be told, had and compare to the observations of the current house.

09:49     Here is why Sankofa's indispensable lessons rest in the knowledge and understanding that one's past is an important aspect of one's future. Therefore, in response to the question, is it not in your sight as nothing? Must come the answer, absolutely not. Here is why, there's yet hope, because through the lens of the spirit of Sankofa, one must visit one's past from time to time, in order to make the best of one's future.

10:24     Additionally, and for our purposes, the house is defined within the Bantu speaking people's frame of reference. Meaning, it is rooted in the spirit of Ubuntu. In other words, I am because we are, and we are, therefore I am. Though the house has sense of self, that self has history, a present, and a future, all of which are always experienced in the community with others.

10:56     It's a house whose freedom is not without its limitations. It's a house that is not static but always in the process of being and becoming. It's transitory in its life, struggle, death, and resurrection. It's a house with a responsibility toward self and others. The house is material in that its physical existence is part of the natural world; however, the house is gifted with the capacity in its spirit to be self-conscious. To remember the past plan for the future. Make deliberate decisions, consider consequences, and the house's actions, and to some extent be self-determining.

11:45     It's problematic that the writer fails to integrate the house's historical unity, but not properly acknowledging the present house's relationship to its past history. Herein, lays dichotomy that begs reconciliation. The house leaves in the midst of tensions that lead it to distort it's sense of holistic self by attending to some aspects of its life, while excluding and isolating others.

12:14     This fragmented view is problematic. I am because we are, implies that the house lives in community with others. In other words, the house's identity is made real in community with other historic, current, and future houses that may be different.

12:35     The problem is that the writer is yet to celebrate the beauty that exists in the difference. The beauty in the text resides in the call for the past and current houses to engage in respectable discourse, to remove beyond contradictions. Both the old house and the new house have their own expressions of freedom as well as limitations. But truth be told, what each house could do was, and is limited by all kinds of circumstances; environmental, economic, political, cultural and historical.

13:14     We cannot help but experience tension as we wonder if the remnants view of the house might be an overestimation of freedoms, as well as an under estimation of limitations experienced in the previous generational house. Could it be that the remnants might bring to bear on the new house unrealistic expectations about the extent to which change might be possible? Or, despair a resignation that change may not be possible? False confidence and compulsive activity may emerge to bring about changes in the modern house, including the deceptive pessimism involved in passive acceptance of the way things exist in the world today. Every authentic house bears witness to both continuity and change. In both individual and integration of dimensions, buildings call for preservation of self identity as well as growth towards more mature representation. In their social dimension, they invite respect for tradition that preserves unchanging truth and reality while also exhibiting readiness for restoration that brings new truth and reality.

14:35     The inherent struggle is the spirit to resist both change and continuity in the house and in the environment within which the house is planted. This spirit breeds fear. The house becomes defensive end resists anything new mistaking rigidity for order.

14:55     The spirit of such a house is stifled rather than trial. It requires to the status quo of commitment to known reality and truth. If nothing is done, it becomes chaotic and irresponsibly resists all change while mistaking lack of discipline for freedom, novelty for creativity, and arbitrary rebellion for progress.

15:20     All of life is lived in the midst of death. No house is permanent. In other words, houses like our mortal bodies are born, live within limits and eventually die. No house can succeed in contradicting its own existence by under or over estimating the importance of its own life and the reality of death. Denying or repressing the reality of death, one may desperately fight for preservation, because of this is a life compromised or sacrifice for the sake of maintaining a life without value.

16:02     If a house does not claim value, it may be in danger of the death. Herein, is the parable of the laborers, yet we are housed in mortal booties, while the idea of speaking to our neighbors about Christ makes us nervous. The spirit of Ubuntu affirms life in the midst of its polarities, limitations, and possibilities as the good. But as Jesus put it, " No one is good, only God." Without the Spirit of God, no single house is willing and able to accept and realize the integration of the polarities, limitations, and possibilities of authentic human existence.

16:48     No house can be fruitful without the Spirit of God in each. How can the remnants see the house becoming the authentic temple built for a people's with the Spirit of God enabling it to be and become what it was destined to become.

17:07     The answer becomes in this Haggai chapter two verse five (b). My Spirit abides among you, do not fear. The house is not without identity, character, or purpose." This house according to Jesus is a house of prayer for all nations. It is rooted in the kingdom of God as exemplified in both the Old and New Testament.

17:36     In the book of Genesis for example, this house is a spirit housed in a body. The ruach of God. And according to St. Paul, we have this treasure inclined as, so that it may be made clear that this extra ordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

17:58     And in the world often attributed to John Wesley, "Without God humanity cannot, and without humanity, God will not. In other words, a partnership is necessary to see the glory of the house. There is both continuity and change which leads St. Paul to speak into young Timothy's life reminding him of his heritage, potential, purpose, identity, and destiny. His faith had been nurtured within three generations of family including two women, Loice and Eunice.

18:40     Like Timothy, our faith has been nurtured by grandparents, parents, neighbors, and strangers alike. In Timothy's vain, not everyone may appreciate us, not everyone may welcome us; however, we have a gospel and denominational mandate to make disciplines of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

19:06     We live in a global village under which science has borne witness that we are one as human beings. However, we continue cast the blind eye and deaf ear to this truth because we prefer to label others, while confining ourselves to familiar racial, national, religious, and other groups. Our global village has immense opportunities and grand potential. We are capable of generating food, housing, infrastructure, armaments, and other goods that could transform Global Village responsibly or irresponsibly. In our global village, anyone in urban America can eat any cuisine from any country in the world, yet our actions contradict our shared humanity.

20:03     Regrettably, 10% of the population devours more than 25% of the Global Village's energy. In our global village, death dealing conditions like poverty, are increasing at a fast rate. In our global village, the continent of Africa, which is the richest continent in many ways, is not only perceived as, but labeled as the poorest.

20:32     Prophet Haggai opens the world to both negative and positive realities of life. He calls the global village to seek God above everything else and to make God a priority, so that the world can apply lives of discipline. At the same time, American citizens living in the United States are spotted throughout urban society, dressed in all kinds of African garments.

20:59     The East Africa annual conference is now planting a new faith communities of Chinese speaking brothers and sisters, leaving on the shores of mother Africa. In our global village, it is no longer true that the actions of Western society impact the rest of the world. What happens in Asia or South America now affects Western society. For example, a reduction in H1B US visas, especially from India, will adversely impact the technology industry in America, not to mention the wide eyed girl or boy in Africa.

21:42     And so the Prophet encourages brothers and sisters living on the margins of society not to despair because while God doesn't remove human problems, the Holy Spirit broods over God's people and remains faithfully present with and among them.

22:02     In light of the above, why can't we behave toward one another as fellow human beings? How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? If truth be told, the setback experience by humanity is rooted in the violation of cardinal principles and methods. What ethics will inform human actions? What methods will humanity utilize to transform the conditions under which the poorest of the poor live, there by bringing about the transformation of the world?

22:40     If the question is modes of operation and principles, then all institutional systems including the church, governments, banking, insurance, law enforcement and education, have a responsibility to transform themselves from within. While science and technology have established for humanity enormous possibility and potential, institutional systems and organization especially on the continent of Africa, continue to teach the majority of the population, that is, youth under 25 years of age, to live in yesterday's world that is transitory.

23:21     Herein lays the challenge, to train children, youth and young adults in the context of today's independent world, which is being born in which they are going to live. Whereas humanity has globalized commerce, we continue to fail to globalize ethical, cardinal principles, and values. If community were to espouse such principles as values across our global village, science and technology would help to transform the world

23:55     We are called to train children, teens, youth and young adults to learn to place themselves in someone else's shoes. Only then will they learn that they are embodied spirits with a responsibility to not only see that they are the interest, and the interest of their neighbors converge in more ways than they divulge.

24:19     If we don't do this, our house, our global village, our community will continue to expand the scope of production without addressing societal problems. We must learn from the example of young Timothy's grandmother, Lois, and his grandmother Eunice, and build capacity for integration leadership.

24:43     And as God assures us through Haggai, "My Spirit abides among you. Do not fear." In God's dictionary, the word impossible does not exist. Therefore, the prophet challenges us to claim ownership, responsibility, and accountability as we undertake the challenge to rebuild the Lord's house.

25:07     We asked our colleague and sister in Christ, Dorothy McCauley to offer some perspective from the African continent. We are grateful for her contribution. Please listen to the next part of this podcast.

25:24     Thank you for listening to the wellSpring Journal podcast. Be sure to visit wellspringsjournal.org to find more resources for the journey.