PEACE WALLS IN BelFASt, IRELAND
WALL AROUND BETHLEHEM
Sometimes things happen in ways you didn’t plan. For instance, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling this past year. Some for fun, some as part of ministry, some a little bit of both. Looking back on the past year of travels, I noticed something. Every trip I took this year involved a location that had walls. Now I know what you might be thinking, “Of course there are walls. If there are buildings, there are walls.” But that’s not the kind of walls I encountered this year.
When I went to Belfast last summer, I got a chance to see the “peace walls” that separated Catholic from Protestant neighborhoods. They were called “peace walls” because it was believed that you could effect peace simply by separating those who fought. If they couldn’t even see each other, they couldn’t fight and kill each other. This past February on my trip to the Holy Land, I encountered walls again. This time it was the walls around the city of Bethlehem. These walls were designed to keep Palestinians in the West Bank and out of Israel. The stated reasons for these walls were to keep Israelis safe from terrorists.
A few weeks ago, I visited another place with walls. With a group of pastors from all over the country, I traveled to the borderland in and around El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. And there, I saw “the wall” that separates the US from Mexico. If we listen to many politicians, we know that the rationale behind these walls is to keep out “undesirables”…drug dealers, terrorists, rapists, murderers, and those wanting to steal our jobs. I’m not saying that is accurate; I’m just pointing out the narrative we are told by politicians.
I feel as though God has drawn me to those places. I didn’t plan to visit the walls of the world this past year but it happened. I don’t know what it means. I am still processing it all. What I do know is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ seems to be all about breaking down barriers, including walls, real and figurative.
What I have noticed on my travels is that one of the most common things that happens around walls and the narratives that surround them is the process of othering, demonization, and dehumanization. The story we are told is that those walls are necessary to keep us safe from those others. Because those others are dangerous; those others are a threat to our safety and well-being; those others want to destroy us. So we need to keep them out and destroy them.
But that narrative is contrary to all that Jesus lived and taught. In worship since Easter, we’ve been hearing stories from Acts and the formation of the early church. And most of the stories in Acts are about breaking down barriers so that the love of God is known to all, regardless of identity. Walls will not keep out the love of God. It doesn’t matter which side of a wall you are on, you are still a beloved child of God.
In El Paso, we took a tour of the wall with border patrol agents. The agent leading the tour referred to coming upon “several bodies.” One of the pastors asked, “They were dead?” She said, “Oh that’s just how we refer to illegal entries.” She seemed to refuse to even acknowledge that she was dealing with real human beings…her own brothers and her own sisters. It’s easy to criticize her, but I think we are all guilty of doing that. We may think of immigrants as just an obstacle to our getting a job or responsible for the drug problems of our country. We may think of every Palestinian as someone who wants to kill the good people of Israel. We too are guilty of othering, demonizing, and dehumanizing. And every wall that we build reinforces that and makes it harder for us to confront those sins of dehumanization. Those are our walls. And may we pray to God to allow us to break them down and see others just as God does.
Peace, Pastor Dana
Border Wall between United States & Mexico
A Baby Shower for Carrie & Tasso
God is doing a new thing at Trinity! On April 29 th , we held our first official brunch church service. The past two Christmases we’ve worshiped while sharing a meal and decided that we liked it so much that we should try it during the rest of the year. On April 29 th , folks gathered in the fellowship hall to enjoy a feast of breakfast and lunch items. The menu included donuts, cinnamon role casserole, fruit breads, mac and cheese, quiches, quinoa salad, fruit, pies, chicken salad, potatoes…an abundance of yumminess. And of course, there was lots of coffee! We sat at tables, enjoyed food and fellowship, and then began a very casual worship service. The service included familiar hymns and a message on how important eating together was to Jesus. We ended the service by sharing in Holy Communion. Folks loved it, and plans are already underway for our next edition of Brunch Church. So mark your calendars and join us on Sunday, July 29 th at 10:30. Bring your appetite, bring your friends and please, if you are able, bring a potluck brunch dish to share.
Trinity Brunch Church
Carrie Finegan and Tasso Tasioudis moved to Ohio in January. We got the wonderful news a few months later that they are expecting their first child in August! They were able to make it back to Atlanta in mid-May for a baby shower with family, friends, colleagues and Trinity members. Tasso's sister did a wonderful job planning the afternoon: there was a "onesie" station where guests were able to make one-of-a-kind clothing from iron-on material, a craft station for kids, the opening of gifts and delicious food. I don't know if babies-to-be can feel the love in utero...but I bet this one did!
CONGRAT’s Justin on all your awards: Honor roll, math, reading, chorus, & special achievement in environmental science. Nice job!! We know grandma Doris and Aunt Jean are very proud of you, as well as parents Kim and Rod Leake.
Featured Choir Members
Our kids have been hard at work finishing up their school year, so we thought we'd brag on them a little bit. And while we're at it, some of our adult members have been doing big things too. We are so proud of all of them!
Makayla recently participated in the Renfroe Middle School spring production of Legally Blonde. She mastered several different chorus roles in the musical including a sorority member of Delta Nu, a hairstylist at the salon, and a rope jumping (and simultaneously singing!) gym member. She played all of these roles while singing and dancing to intense choreography. The most impressive take away was Makayla’s ability to completely stay in character, despite her family and friends watching intently and distracting her from the audience, speaking impressively to her acting and singing abilities. She impressed under pressure! The play was quite entertaining, and had a packed house. The music was fun and light, as was the story line. There were only two performances, both of which were sold out with waiting lists!
Since Makayla switched from playing the flute in band to chorus in 7th grade she has become a member of the Touring Choir at Renfroe (an extracurricular traveling/competing choir), and occasionally accompanies on flute at her choral concerts, as she still takes private flute lessons with her grandmother, Omi. She was also recently selected to sing as part of a duet at her 8th grade capstone ceremony. This summer she will participate in an overnight, skills intensive volleyball camp at Emory University, attend a week-long hip-hop dance camp at Project SLIDE (where she also takes weekly dance classes), and will start summer band camp as part of the Decatur High School Color Guard. Makayla worked incredibly hard to try out for the Color Guard team and in November will be joining the DHS International Band Trip to Prague! Stay tuned for DHS fundraising information to help fund her trip. She will turn 15 this fall and is looking forward to getting her driving learner’s permit. Makayla works hard at school to keep her grades up and is interested in eventually becoming a lawyer.
Trinity Choir has had a couple of new faces these past few months. Peter Dickson has been singing tenor in the Trinity choir since the first of the year. Ruby Champion has been singing soprano with us since February. (Our regular soprano Sakinah Davis had a busy semester teaching and performing in several musical events these past few months.) Here's a few of their highlights. We want to thank them both for sharing their talents with us!
Nickolas turned 10 years old in April! Double digits! He will be entering 5th Grade at Fourth/Fifth Academy at Fifth Ave this coming fall. He continues to work hard at the piano and the violin everyday, and just graduated from the Suzuki Book One in violin by recording all of the songs from the book for his instructor, as well as performing at a recital. Most of his afternoons are spent at music lessons and practices, and playing outside with his friends. This summer Nickolas will attend Oak Tree Camp at Emory University, and Suzuki violin camp (along with his grandmother, Omi). He has an active interest in science experiments, and his lego set assembly abilities are unparalleled. He enjoys graphic novels and watching the Slo Mo Guys on Youtube. He has a goal to host his own Youtube channel with his friends one day, and is looking forward to the pool opening on Memorial Day weekend.
Look at what We've been up to!
Nickolas is third from the left
Once again, summer sees a short break for ballet dancers, but then it returns to what on the surface just looks like more of the same at some two to five-week intensive dance training program. But, to those involved in this strangely singular focus, a summer intensive holds all the same joy, excitement and promise as a long trip to a tropical island. For Stevie Amthor, she's very happy to be getting a bit of both this year as she heads south for over a month of study with the Miami City Ballet. Stevie auditioned at a 2017 national festival in Phoenix, against hundreds of Ballet students from across the country. She was stunned and in some disbelief when it was announced at the festival gala that she’d won Miami City's full scholarship to the program. She was able to defer the scholarship to this summer and has been preparing for the adventure for the last two years. Why Miami City Ballet? “They have great Cuban ballet dancers there who learned classical form from Soviet trainers,” Stevie says, “but they blend their traditional technique with great Cuban style and it gives the ballet company fantastic power and excitement. Plus there are terrific teachers there and it will all be new to me!” She'll stay in dormitories at the MCB School in Miami Beach (at the fabulous Jackie Gleason Theatre complex) and will have some time for cultural and social outings mixed in with the dance work. It's a big leap, and the longest time she's ever been away from home. She'll miss everybody while she's there, and may well come back a changed person. Her family's greatest fear about the venture? Stevie running off with a Cuban drug lord, even if he does look like Al Pacino. Her greatest concern? “I just really hope I get a good roommate.”
Stevie with her dog, Yuki
Johnathan Palmer, son of Bobbie and John Palmer, grandson of Doris Pittman, was recently inducted into the National Honor Society, West Milford High School Chapter. He was also chosen as the Citizen of the Month, exemplifying his school's emphasis on PRIDE: the qualities of Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Dedication and Excellence. Congratulations, Johnathan, on your excellent achievements!
On May 5, 2018, Jean Pittman Mabry, in partnership with C.H.O.I.C.E.S. - Center Helping Obesity In Children End Successfully, provided fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy pantry staples to over one thousand families with children. In addition to this needed service; Jean gave 150 pounds of carrots; 50 pounds of Onions; several bushels of corn, squash, zucchini and cereal to Mary Yoder who carried the bounty to Trinity House/ Big Bethel. C.H.O.I.C.E.S. is a mission-driven nonprofit, established in 2002, and committed to being a childhood obesity prevention resource. Childhood obesity rates are on the decline in Georgia - it used to be 2nd in the nation and has dropped to 17th (2017 statistics). Jean says the organization is "supercharged" to continue the journey towards elimination of childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles and food choices. Now that is a worthy cause worth celebrating!
HOW SWEET IT IS! BALLET & BIG STEPS IN MIAMI BEACH
Jean pittman Mabry
Denise Shaw was recently recognized for having worked at Georgia State University as a janitor for more than thirty years (from July, 1987 through July, 2017). She and all the other Georgia State employees who had anniversaries in 2017 were officially recognized. During this 30 year period, Denise was late only twice, and took 2 sick days! That is very impressive commitment to your job! Congratulations to Denise for this wonderful achievement!
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Trinity United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA 30303