by Adam Hayden, Kids 4 Peace, Cincinnati Coordinator
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. – Colossians 1:19-20
Black Lives Matter Signs. Blue Lives Matter Signs. Trump is the greatest thing that has ever happened to American politics. Trump is the worst thing that has ever happened. The Church should stand on the truth and not allow any wokism or transgender or racial issues into the pulpit. It should preach Jesus. The Church should stand on the truth and explore issues prevalent in the community around us and welcome and include transgender people and speak on racial issues from the pulpit. It should preach Jesus.
In the Wyoming neighborhood some people came down pretty vehemently on one side or another. They dug their heels in as they dug in their yard signs promoting Black Lives or Blue Lives or that one sign that informs their neighbors of all the different things they believe in or the other sign that welcomes different groups of people. Some just gave up on which side or which sign to promote so their sign just read, “pray for America.”
People on different sides didn’t just put up signs. They showed up at political meetings and school board meetings and had plenty to say. Their words were spoken and typed. People heard and saw how adults in the neighborhood were addressing one another. Some of these people were kids.
So, we at the Presbyterian Church of Wyoming decided to offer a program called “Future of Hope” for middle school students. During this six-week program, spread out over three months, we provided space for kids to talk and listen. One of the very first prompts was about those yard signs. We gave space for kids to explore differences and challenged them to think intentionally on how they want to individually treat one another. Just like every corporation or non-profit has a mission statement, we invited each student to come up with their own personal mission statement on how they want to treat one another.
This mission statement activity was focused on the individual. It was about how each individual decides to treat others: hopefully in a way that leads with compassion and shows empathy.
Then some thoughts occurred to me – those pesky thoughts! Just as an individual can decide to love and care for others and make choices to make that happen more than not, a community of people can too. A neighborhood, collectively, can figure out that they want to love and care for others. The people can then create rules and regulations and push for policies and initiatives that make it easier for that to happen. The people can also create an atmosphere where the opposite is true. So what are some of the rules and initiatives that make neighborhoods more inclusive, welcoming, and robust? How do groups of people come together and create their mission statements and live them out together?
Enter “Learning to Love.” We are going to meet with a group of middle school students for a deep dive in the neighborhood of Northside, Cincinnati. We are going to partner with Third Way, WordPlay Cincinnati, Anybody’s Dream Store, and more to explore the questions and ideas mentioned above. How is Northside doing at creating a loving, inclusive neighborhood? What are they doing to help create such an environment? What are their challenges? We will explore these ideas and more during “Learning to Love” June 12-14th.
If you would like to know more about this program or have a youth interested in joining us, simply give me a call or text me at 812-430-4464.