A friend of mine watched the video of my Oct. 10 sermon online and declared, “the best part was when you said ‘Amen’ and the clapping commenced – you were shocked and awed with love!”
I’d say that was exactly right: both that I was awed by the loving response and that was the best part. I cannot thank my congregation and many others enough for the incredibly supportive response, both that day and since.
But the question before us now is, what’s next? As great as it felt (and still feels!) to be united in our opposition to bullying of all kinds to all people (which really, given the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus the Liberating King, is not at all a radical position), we cannot let that be the end of this conversation. Because kids are still being bullied. And not just “out there” somewhere, but right here in our communities, right here in Naperville and Downers Grove and Woodridge.
One critique that I’ve heard is that it appears to some readers that I think the only bullying that is happening (or the only kind that matters to me) is anti-gay bullying. So let me put that to rest. All bullying of any kind to any one is wrong and needs to stop.
Here is the first ‘next step’ from my church’s Youth Ministry leaders: Led by Christine Byczynski, our Youth Ministry adult leaders created a card for our young people to carry. A card to remind them of who they are and that they are not alone. Take a look:
The back reads: We are here for you. We love you. You can call or text any of us at anytime.
Then it lists several leaders’ names and cell phone numbers. Every one of our young people who have attended Wednesday Night Live in the last two weeks has gone home with one of these cards. And more are available. We’re going to keep giving them out. We want all our kids and all the kids we can reach to know they are a beloved child of God and that they are not alone.
How about some next ‘next steps’?
-Woodridge UMC ‘s Wednesday night sessions have included some very honest conversations with our teenagers and will continue to.
-Woodridge UMC’s next session for parents will focus on bullying.
Now, how about you? What are you or organizations you’re connected with doing to stop bullying? Let’s share best practices so that together we can do all we can to keep our young people whole and healthy.
A three-part series on bullying on the UMC website: http://ow.ly/31i7B
UMC Board of Church & Society article on cyberbullying: http://ow.ly/31if5
Clergy Against Bullying petition, which I signed and you can too: http://ow.ly/31i9a
I wrote about signing that petition here: http://ow.ly/31ib9
Collection of Christian responses to bullying from all over the USA (including one from yours truly): http://ow.ly/31icq
And, of course, you can watch my Oct. 10 sermon right here