Everything Counts

Everything Counts

old house

By Rev. Rashim Merriwether

Special Assistant to the Bishop on Ethnic Concerns and Initiatives

“The truth is… everything counts. Everything. Everything we do and everything we say. Everything helps or hurts; everything adds to or takes away from someone else.”

Countee Cullen

As we begin the arduous process of navigating the issues that have consumed the landscape of this fall season, these words come to mind helping me keep things in perspective. Everything counts, what we do, what we say, it is all part of the narrative called “Our Story.” The good, the bad, and the ugly, regardless of the content, it is the truth of our existence. Each time we fail to speak truth we miss an opportunity to become a responder to the needs of our neighbor in answering God’s call. Each time we distort, manipulate or change for saintly adaptation the context and reality experienced, we cripple ourselves and others from seeing the fullness of the story. Each moment gives way to its own context and truth which is vital in how we identify, process, name, face and respond to systemic racism, its structures and co-conspirators, whether willing or unknowing.

Countee’s words remind me that there should be an intentional effort to fully embrace the truth of our existence, and then be willing to speak and lean into that truth, knowing what is at stake if we don’t accept the truth of “Our Story.” The truth is, as we pull at the string of racism in hopes of unraveling its toxic ugliness we find that its tether is interwoven into the entire garment.

Isabel Wilkerson speaks about the issues of racism, or “Caste,” as she refers to it in her book, Caste, The Origins of Our Discontents and uses the analogy of an old house to drive the conversation into perspective.

Wilkerson compares the issues and discontent of intentional structural casting in America to an old house, built generations ago. The structure has endured a multitude of storms along with people who have lived there over time. The house already exists with its many flaws that have been left unattended and are original to its foundation.

As you live in this house you see and hear signs that the soundness of the house is in question. The wind whistles through the windows or the plaster is swollen from a leaking roof along with countless other problems that seem to appear at different times and seasons. Despite being a witness to these factors, the person finds themselves deciding whether they really want to submit the house to inspection under the infrared light, exposing the house’s flaws and defects.

Do you want to perform research on the house, its builders, the structure which could reveal the source of those issues, or do you try to ignore that any problems exist? Why?

I think because, like that string, as you pull at it, you realize that the issues, the problems, the sin, the injustice, go much deeper into the house than you would like to admit. Its roots are found in the structural timbers and foundation of the house. The work, the cost — whether emotional, financial, social, or spiritual — are unmeasurable factors that create fear to the house owner/occupant, leaving them with more questions than possible solutions.

What will it cost to fix this problem? How much are you willing to invest? How much is enough? At what point does the cost of the restorative work outweigh the source or the problem? Is there ever a maximum limit to this work? After all, no one is trying to lose themselves in the process, right? But is this not a reason to learn the complete story of the house? Also, what’s at stake if there is no effort in addressing the problems? Cullen’s words speak prophetically as the infrared light has revealed the depths racism exists within this house.

“The truth is… everything counts. Everything. Everything we do and everything we say. Everything helps or hurts; everything adds to or takes away from someone else.”

Now that we have begun to see how deep this issue is, we can’t decide to ignore what has been revealed. Deflecting, projecting, and rejecting does not change the fact that there is some real work that must be continued. Beyond paint, beyond curtains, shutters or furniture, there is some work that must be completed to fix problems which, if left ignored, can cause the house to be condemned and declared uninhabitable. Wilkerson tells us that a problem can’t be addressed unless it is seen. But we must be willing to see the entire story of this house and then, only then, will we ever be able to truly rebuild it for the future.

Obituary – Rev. Sammye Jess Rink

Obituary – Rev. Sammye Jess Rink

Rev. Sammye Rink

Sammye Jess Rink, who resided in Fort Smith, Arkansas, died Tuesday, November 3, 2020, at Baptist Health Hospital in Fort Smith. She was born December 12, 1932, in Floydada, Texas, to the late Bonnie Houston Shultz and Vallie (Sisson) Shultz. She was 87 years old. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frederick Earl Rink; her daughter, Gloria Ellen Rink; and her youngest grandson, Michael Allen Rink.

Sammye was a life-long registered nurse and a minister in the United Methodist Church and Nazarene Church for the last 20 years. She touched the lives of hundreds of people throughout all four corners of the country and Alaska. She was currently a member of two churches, Midland United Methodist and River Valley Church of the Nazarene. She taught Sunday School and Bible studies right up until a month before her passing.

A family held memorial service will be held at 3:00 P.M., Tuesday, November 17th, at Wesley United Methodist Church in Fort Smith.

She is survived by one son, Dr. D. Chris Rink and wife Gladys McCutchen Rink of Fort Smith; three grandsons, Christopher Lee Rink of Fort Smith, John Alan Drueckhammer of Fort Smith, and David Eugene Drueckhammer and his wife, Christina Lancer Drueckhammer of Plano, Texas. She is also survived by ten great-grandchildren, Adyn, Aryn, Aspyn, Anyn, and Aowyn Rink of Fort Smith and Tyler, Wesley, Sara, Hannah, and Maggie Drueckhammer of Plano, Texas.

Cremation arrangements are under the direction of Brotherton Brothers Cremation Services in Fort Smith, 914 N. 32nd St. Fort Smith, AR  72903. (479) 434-3901 or (479) 965-8202

To place an online tribute, please visit www.brothertonbrothersfuneralhomes.com. You may visit our new Facebook page, Brotherton Brothers Cremation Services in Fort Smith. Thank You

In lieu of flowers, the family would request donations be made to the Michael Allen Rink Memorial Scholarship at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.

Ministry Partner “Vanco Faith” Offering One-on-One Help to Set Up Digital Giving

Ministry Partner “Vanco Faith” Offering One-on-One Help to Set Up Digital Giving

vanco logo

Nashville, TN – The GCFA Connectional/External Relations teams are announcing that Vanco has renewed its ministry partnership with GCFA. Vanco, through Vanco Faith, has built new services and enhanced existing tools to help churches, including a free smartphone app. By putting the time and investment in advanced eGiving options, Vanco can work with churches to find eGiving plans that fit the individual church’s needs. Vanco can offer churches giving tools that help track donations, keep members connected, and provide different giving platforms for ministry supporters.

GCFA has had a vetted relationship with Vanco for nearly 20 years. In this timespan, more than 3,000 United Methodist churches and ministries have used the giving platforms that have grown from “how to receive checks” to the latest electronic giving platforms. The Vanco giving platforms integrate with multiple church management software providers so churches are not required to change software. Vanco is committed to making sure each church that partners with Vanco is set up for success as they utilize online giving.

All UMC churches that sign up with Vanco by November 30 will receive personalized one-on-one onboarding with a Vanco eGiving specialist, an offer valued at $500. Click here to visit the site designed for United Methodist churches and learn more. The dedicated implementation specialist will assist the church through three one-to-one training sessions to personalize the church’s online giving page that will focus on highlighting church missions, create communication to share with members using customizable marketing materials, and more.

“Vanco is very excited again to partner with GCFA. We’ve enjoyed this partnership for many years as we achieve our aim of helping those who enrich their communities. UMC churches do amazing work during difficult periods, and they are continuing that work in new and innovative ways to support their community. Vanco is happy to introduce new tools, including our church community smartphone app, to United Methodist churches. Our online giving tools help UMC churches thrive financially and succeed in their ministries – whether congregations gather in person or virtually,” said Shawn Boom, CEO of Vanco.

For more information on the Ministry Partner program, contact Kellie Schmeal at connetionalrelations@gcfa.org, or 615-369-2408.

Faith and Donation: The Time is NowNational Donor Sabbath is Nov. 13 - 15

Faith and Donation: The Time is Now
National Donor Sabbath is Nov. 13 - 15

National Donor Sabbath

By Alan Cochran

President and Executive Director, ARORA

Most churches teach regularly on financial stewardship and giving–it’s an essential spiritual discipline, as well as the lifeblood of any congregation.

For three days in mid-November, faith communities throughout the United States will join to focus awareness and encouragement on a different sort of gift–The Gift of Life–during National Donor Sabbath, two weekends prior to Thanksgiving.

During National Donor Sabbath, faith leaders join with local organ procurement organizations such as ARORA, governmental agencies like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and each other to encourage organ and tissue donation.

Many donor families lean heavily on their faith and spirituality to comfort them about their loss of a loved one. Some recipients, struggle with a sense of guilt for having received a life-saving organ transplant following the death of their donor. Some turn to a higher power for understanding. All major religions in the U.S. support organ donation as the ultimate act of charity and self-sacrifice.

The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation. A 1992 resolution of the Church states, “Donation is to be encouraged, assuming appropriate safeguards (are put into place) against hastening death and (that the) determination of death (is declared) by reliable criteria.” The resolution further states, “Pastoral-care persons should be willing to explore these options as a normal part of conversation with patients and their families.”

National Donor Sabbath provides an opportunity for faith communities to share their views and join in the conversation.
At ARORA, we encourage Arkansas’ faith leaders to consider ways they can join and foster the conversation. We have assembled a page of useful resources at https://www.arora.org/NDS, and I’d like to share a few of these simple, actionable ideas to grow The Gift of Life in Arkansas, paraphrased from the comprehensive resource guide on our website:

Provide clarity. Please share your religion’s position on organ, tissue, and eye donation. Please contact us to learn more about your faith group’s position on organ donation. Share the need and urgency.

Hold a candle-lighting or prayer breakfast to honor those who have donated the gift of life, including both living and deceased donors. Recognize and pray for those awaiting organs.

Offer support to patients waiting for a transplant. Encourage members of your congregation to do so as well–from visiting, to transportation, to assistance for their families.

Address the subject in sermons, prayers, and homilies. On National Donor Sabbath, and at other times during the year, many faith leaders include the subject of donation in their sermons and prayers. The concept of giving to others— even after one’s own life has come to a close—is a compelling and memorable theme.

Share information within your community. In your congregation, there may be someone who needs a transplant, someone who is a living donor, a family whose loved one was a donor, or someone who has received a transplant. Invite them to share their stories during services.

Acknowledge donation at funeral services (with the donor family’s permission). When you know the deceased was an organ or tissue donor, it’s inspiring to pass along the good this person has done.

Utilize mailings, bulletins, Web sites, and newsletters. Place stories, quotes, and notices about donation and National Donor Sabbath in your mailings or newsletter. Referencing an organ, tissue, or eye donor or transplant recipient in your own community adds special significance.

Ask your faith community for volunteers. You know that getting others involved amplifies the impact and deepens the reward. Someone may have a personal connection to donation and may want to help observe National Donor Sabbath and increase awareness about donation in any way possible.

Becoming an organ and tissue donor can be an act of faith. It expresses belief about the sanctity and importance of life, about the need to care for one another, about fundamental tenets. This November 13-15, we encourage you and your community of faith to explore The Gift of Life during National Donor Sabbath. For extensive resources and connections to our people, please visit arora.org/nds.

Alan Cochran is President and Executive Director of ARORA, the agency charged with managing donation and tissue recovery for most of Arkansas. ARORA’s work facilitates some 500 organ transplants and tens of thousands of tissue and eye transplants every year. Reach him at acochran@arora.org.