Commentary- All I wanted was a pack of bologna
by Kathy Odell
All I wanted was a pack of bologna . . . It has been a busy week at Annual Conference. I usually come alone, but this year my husband and two of the grandchildren were able to join me. Between helping with registration, and serving as a district delegate, having time to eat lunch with my family was going to be a special treat. They picked me up after the morning session, and we headed back to where we were staying for a quick picnic lunch – but not before stopping at a local grocery chain for a pack of bologna (chips, plates, cookies – I should have gotten a buggy!).
A conversation we had with the owner of our bed and breakfast had stuck with me from the morning. He was from a multi-cultural neighborhood in Miami, and moving here had been difficult for his 5 year old daughter. She didn’t understand when she approached children of other races or ethnic backgrounds here in Waynesville why they were surprised she wanted to play with them, and the sometimes the reactions from the adults were even worse. I hadn’t witnessed this type of prejudice in a long time personally, and I guess I didn’t want to believe that it really existed. At least not in North Carolina, and certainly not in the beautiful, serene hills of the Smoky Mountains.
As I was standing in line waiting to pay for my groceries, there was a mother in front of me with 3 children, one about a year old in the buggy, and maybe a 3 and 5 year old. I’ve been there-it’s lunch time, cranky kids, and all you want to do is get out of the grocery store in one piece. As we waited, it was apparent the elderly lady we were behind was struggling. Her buggy was in the wrong place, the cashier couldn’t reach her groceries to check them out. We all had to back up to reposition her cart. She couldn’t find the reward card she knew she had, then her EBT card only had $16, so she had to write a check for the rest – and her eyesight was not good, so she needed help to swipe her card again, and the cashier filled in her check after she signed it.
All this waiting didn’t help with kids who were restless, but this kind lady with these three children insisted I go ahead since I only had a few items and she had a full buggy. I protested, but she pushed me forward and I thanked her – while admiring her beautiful children. While I was being checked out, an elderly gentleman was sitting by the office in a rolling chair. He rolled it back to the lady behind me and asked in a loud voice “Do you speak English?” – Oh yeah, I didn’t mention she was Hispanic – because I hadn’t really noticed. She responded that she did, and he became even louder “you need to keep your kids from running around the front of this store, your son right there is going to turn that rack over, and I know you don’t have the money to pay for it, and if you are going to bring them shopping, they need to learn this is a business, and not a playground . . . “ There was more, but in the shock of the moment I can’t really remember what else he said. The entire front line of registers, with lines of customers became silent. I was in shock, speechless. Thankfully the cashier was able to speak, and said to the gentleman that it was O.K., the children weren’t hurting anything. He continue to protest, and she asked him to please be quiet, and he reluctantly retreated back to where he came from, against the wall of the front office.
I am so ashamed. Ashamed that I still forget this kind of prejudice exists, even in my neighborhood. Ashamed that we still judge people for the splinter in their eye, while ignoring the log in our own. Ashamed that I didn’t speak up, and that the cashier had to step in, when I was right there.
All I wanted was a pack of bologna . . .
Kathy Odell is the Director of Human Resources for the Western North Carolina Conference
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.