Are We Awake? (Part 2)
Our reflections from launching the awakening ORV 2020 Summer Series.
This past summer was one we will remember. The Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing and students and their families were bunkered down in their homes. Camps, mission trips, retreats, and summer activities that churches normally offer their students were getting cancelled. In response, Colocate Ministry Consulting and Ohio River Valley District came together to offer awakening: ORV 2020 SUMMER. This was a digital experience especially developed for students facing the cancellation of so many camps, mission trips, days of service, retreats, and the list could go on and on...We hoped each student who "came" could connect with others and most importantly experience an awakening allowing them to deepen their relationship with God.
After rolling out awakening: ORV 2020 SUMMER. Brent and Benji, the awakening facilitators and hosts, spent some time reflecting on this experience. This two part post shares their two biggest takeaways: voices matter & pivoting is not optional.
Voices Matter - Part 2
By Rev. Benji Sayre
So, we pivoted, pivoted back, and then pivoted some more. As Brent shared in part one, plans change and then the changed plans change. The global pandemic of COVID-19 changed the way awakening was delivered; it changed the way awakening was executed; and as we were making those initial pivots we began realizing that the pandemic of racial injustice was also causing us to make some pivots in how awakening came to be as well.
In the midst of all of these pivots to a live, interactive program to a recorded resource, the unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery happened. People took to the streets to protest and share peaceful witnesses. And during that time, Brent and I realized that we need to magnify the voices of women and people of color as much as we could and that we need to apply that magnification to awakening. That led us to start recruiting what we think became an all-star dream team of keynote speakers for each day of awakening. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see this amazing line-up, I’d encourage you to check it out. Here’s a quick list of who was able to join awakening and provide their voice to the project:
- Rev. Dr. Suzanne Allen - Assistant to the District Superintendent of the Ohio River Valley District
- Rev. Brian Choi - Pastor, Park Avenue UMC
- Pastor Daniel Hughes - Pastor, Incline Missional Community
- Ms. Tracy Chambers - Certified Lay Minister and Finance Manager, Ohio River Valley District
- Rev. Lizy Ortiz-Alatorre - Pastor, St. Mark’s UMC & International Ministries Pastor, Grove City UMC
These speakers represented the voices that are not widely present in the United Methodist Church. We hope that you will check out these talks and share them with your students.
Awakening was not what we initially planned, but we believe it has become a space for students to hear from a wide variety of voices with messages that can really speak into their lives. The question that was asked over and over again throughout the sessions was “Are you awake?” I think this question is still just as relevant. Our hope is that both pandemics we are in the midst of—COVID-19 and Systemic Racism—will open our eyes to the things God wants to see, hear, and do.
Rev. Benji Sayre
Benji, an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, serves as the Executive Director of The Wesley Foundation in Cincinnati. Benji also serves as the Associate Pastor at Clifton United Methodist Church and as a Co-Founder and Coach at Colocate Ministry Consulting. When Benji and his wife, Molly, aren't working they are spending quality time with their two children.