“I’m so weary of the ‘call out’ culture. We need a call forth culture instead. Calling forth the best in people. Calling forth compassion, gratitude, empathy. Calling forth justice. Calling forth beauty, goodness, wonder. Calling forth courage.”

~ Diana Butler Bass

It’s been a difficult few weeks for me, with the most difficult day being last Friday when I learned that Rev. Vickey Gibbs had died of COVID-19. It was one heartbreak too many after weeks of worrying about friends, church members, and mentors who had contracted COVID-19 and were struggling to recover…after others had been exposed to the coronavirus and were quarantining while waiting for test results…after trying to discern actual facts about rising hospitalizations and tests in our area, the nation, and the world…after being frustrated with what feels like a leadership vacuum…after worrying about when and under what conditions my children would be returning to schools….

So I decided to join the “call forth” culture urged by Diana Butler Bass, and last Sunday I ended our worship service with these words: Cases of COVID and deaths and hospitalizations are on the rise, especially here in Central Texas. It is time for us to take the lead, to take it upon ourselves to help slow the spread of the disease and the devastation that it causes. I’m encouraging all of us to stop any nonessential going out, to stay in your homes as much as you can, to work from home if it’s possible, to cut down on trips that aren’t absolutely necessary, to wear your masks all the time, to observe social distancing, to do all the things that are within our power to do and to set an example so that sooner than later, we will be back together in our houses of worship.

Since 1969 Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) “has been at the vanguard of civil and human rights movements by addressing issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, economics, climate change, aging, and global human rights.” As a part of that rich tradition, upRising is ready to extend our leadership into the area of decreasing the spread of the coronavirus and the death and destruction it is leaving in its wake. We’re ready to step up and call forth other communities and people of faith to commit to and set the example for taking all the steps that we know can help us contain COVID-19.

Today marks the beginning of our “For the Love of God and Neighbors” campaign. It’s a simple campaign that we hope will encourage and inspire people of faith to lead the way in combatting COVID-19. We need you to help spread the word.

Here’s how it will work:

Each day, for the next 10 days, we will send out a “For the Love of God and Neighbors” graphic. We want you to do two things: 1) Share the graphic through all your social media venues, and 2) Encourage 10 of your friends to share the 10 graphics as well (one each day from when they start) and see if they can get 10 friends to share all 10.

By itself, this simple campaign won’t stop the spread of the pandemic, but here are some of the things we hope it will do.

  • Offer you an opportunity to do something positive
  • Help you feel connected to others who are trying to make a difference
  • Give you a starting point for having conversations with those who need convincing about the benefits of practicing COVID-19 prevention protocols
  • Allow you to express your faith through your actions
  • Let hesitant leaders know that we support them in making hard decisions for public safety
  • Serve as a reminder for people for whom safety protocols are not yet habits
  • Help get us closer to the day when we can safely worship together in person again

You can copy the “For the Love of God and Neighbors Wear a Mask” image from this newsletter and paste it into your own social media. You can also “Share” the image from the upRising FB page, Instagram, or Twitter. In the next few days, you also will be able to find the sharable images at fortheloveofGodandneighbors.org. (We’re working on that website now to get it ready.)

In Hope,

Note: To understand more about why our new For the Love of God and Neighbors effort is necessary, click here to read a news article from July 16, 2020.