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KEEPING THE FAITH | How can we best show support for God’s essential employees?

Today is Pastors Appreciation Sunday. Everyone likes to be appreciated, especially when the work being done is in service to others. It’s important to show your pastor, shepherd or spiritual leader that you appreciate what they do and why they do it.  
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

Today is Pastors Appreciation Sunday, which is a wonderful opportunity for you to express thankfulness for God’s essential employees. 

Despite the ongoing effects of the current pandemic, faith leaders have adjusted to meet the spiritual needs of others. Visiting the sick, officiating weddings and funerals, while still finding creative outlets to preach and teach have been met with the measure of grace God extended. 

To be honest, it’s a tiring-yet-rewarding labor of love.   

Remember those who serve you well. The best way to appreciate servant leaders is to pray for them in all areas of their lives. While international and national faith leaders may capture your heart for a moment in time, remember it is your local leaders that want to touch and help transform the hearts while responding to matters of your concern. 

Some may wonder when the concept of clergy appreciation began. Actually, the earliest appeal to recognize the service of faith leaders was expressed by Apostle Paul. He writes in I Timothy 5:17, “Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching.”  

He continues upon the theme of clergy appreciation in his writings Thessalonians 5:12-13, “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.”

I am blessed to have a sassy and vibrant seasoned citizen within our congregation named Oria Lumpkin. If you know her personally then you can attest how authentic and honest she can be. If it is even possible, she is even more transparent with me. Never for shock and awe, has she bared the essence of every issue without any filters. She once said, “Three people I will never lie to: my doctor, my lawyer and my pastor because they need to know the truth, my truth as I see it, in order to help me!” 

I often cite her shared wisdom at the beginning of every counseling session I facilitate.   

Many faith leaders spend more time with other families in the community than they do their own. Most are very liberal with time, finances, encouragement and are always ready to offer a hand to those in need. It is often assumed that they are “fine” and have no needs, but that assumption is often not true. In reality, pastoral families often slip through the cracks and are the last to be ministered to. Hence the high incidents of suicide, addiction, divorce and burnout. Trust me on this: It BLESSES a pastor to know that others are intentionally praying for their needs as well! 

Some folks also erroneously consider the pastor’s companion akin to a buy-one-get-one-free deal. In the past, pastors’ wives often filled the roles as the pianist, teaching ministry or the in-house psalmist. As more women have assumed the pastorate, their mates’ brawn was used for setting up the fellowship hall, custodial detail and whatever skills they provide in the secular community. 

In truth, these pastoral agents have an assignment of ministry that few will ever understand. They lovingly nurse the hurt and calm the fears so that the pastor can meet the tasks before them. Investigate to find out what would make the spouse feel valued and appreciated for their untold sacrifices. In future missives, I will discuss the burdens of being a preacher’s kid as expressed by my own precious gifts. 

Everyone likes to be appreciated, especially when the work being done is in service to others. It’s important to show your pastor, shepherd or spiritual leader that you appreciate what they do and why they do it.  

Let’s end hunger one step at a time

Youngstown’s “HYBRID” CROP Hunger Walk will take place today at 2 p.m. at The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1150 Elm St. Please join me and Protestant Family Service in our quest to eliminate hunger. The CROP Hunger Walk is a nationwide movement sponsored by Church World Service to raise funds to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

The local event raises funds and awareness for sustainable solutions to end hunger here in the Mahoning Valley. This year’s funds raised by area CROP participants will be allocated with  75% directed toward global hunger projects and the remainder divided to support the hunger and poverty work of Protestant Family Service and the Mobile Market Initiative in the Mahoning Valley.

The Youngstown CROP Hunger Walk is a family-friendly event that includes four-legged members. Leashes are required and water bowls will be available on the lawn and at all water stops. Parking is available at Congregation Rodef Sholom, 1119 Elm St., Youngstown.

All activities will take place outside. Masks will be required to use restrooms located inside the church. Onsite CROP Walkers will have a choice of one of two routes: The Crandall Park Loop (3 miles) or The Wick Park Loop (1 mile).

I am walking to honor the legacy of the late Jackie Burley who recently passed away after serving faithfully as the executive director of Protestant Family Service. Cathy Pokrivnak now serves in this role and merits our support. 

Will you consider joining me in this movement? Click here to pre-register and onsite registrations are also accepted.

In 2021, we must continue to fight against the challenges of disease, disaster, displacement and other concerns that leave people hungry. I hope you will join members of our community as we seek to raise resources to help our neighbors near and far obtain the meals they need today and sustainable food security for tomorrow.

I am reminded of an incident when someone overheard my then-6-year-old daughter say, "Daddy, I have an appetite." The woman was impressed that my daughter was able to articulate in such a mature manner. I responded that my daughter has never been hungry a day in her life. As David proclaimed in Psalms 37:25 “Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.” If she declines the leftovers in the fridge opting for a Happy Meal then she failed the hunger test. Folks who are truly hungry seldom are discriminating in their tastes. Curbing the appetite is another manner. 

‘You Have Been Targeted’

Images bearing the likeness of Dr. Lashale Pugh of Campbell, Pastor Todd Johnson of Warren and myself will appear locally on billboards to promote "You Have Been Targeted” which is part of the National Healthy Lung Month Campaign. During the campaign, we hope to increase awareness and education about this very important topic. 

"You Have Been Targeted" speaks to the need for the community in general and the African American community specifically to understand the risks of smoking, particularly mentholated products. This campaign seeks to enlighten and engage the community of their risks and help them with the tools they need to Choose Life.

Supporting the faithful

Recently Father Bojan Banovic, a native of Bosnia, and I were blessed to break bread — actually we enjoyed fruit as we mutually fasted from meat and dairy — together. Father Banovic seeks to establish relationships with peers and parishes in the area. Ljubinka, his wife is also from Bosnia. A heart for ministry, he currently serves the congregation of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church in Austintown and desires to become more engaged in the community. 

In Serbian tradition, Orthodox Christian families celebrate Slava, which is a saint's feast day. This holiday — which consists of a feast held for relatives, neighbors and friends — honors Slava, a patron saint, who is believed to be their guardian and protector. I look forward to personally witnessing this celebration. I believe it is important for me to understand Father Banovic’s cultural context as he immerses himself in our community.

I also look forward to patronizing the Friday Fish Fry on Oct. 15 at the Holy Trinity Serbian Hall, 54 Laird Ave., from 3:30 to 7 p.m. You can select either baked or fried fish with choice of two sides green beans, haluski, French fries, mac and cheese, Spanish rice, coleslaw or apple sauce for $12. Smaller portion meals are available for $6. Assorted pies are also sold for $2 per slice. To place an order or for further information, call 330-792-1005.   

Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

The recent national headline news regarding the late Gabby Petito, an alleged victim of domestic violence, highlights the need to promote awareness and intervention.

Retired Youngstown Police Detective Sergeant Delphine Baldwin-Casey is sponsoring a FREE workshop “Dealing with Victims, Abusers and The Police” on Friday Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave., Youngstown.

I am honored to partner and participate in this much-needed community conversation. I will pose a probing question to faith-based leaders, “Is Your Ministry A Haven for the Abused or Harbor for the Abuser?” 

Standard COVID-19 protocols will be observed and light refreshments provided. A certificate of completion for professional continuing education hours is offered through Help Network of Northeast Ohio. Reservations are limited and can be secured by calling 330-550-2187 or 330-559 -1927

A prayer for clergy, their family and those they serve

Lord,

Bless us with Your presence as we before You. We are grateful for the gifts and opportunities You have bestowed and blessed upon us.  We humbly ask that Your will continues to mold our hearts as we grow in Your image. Your gift of today provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our church leadership. Our faith leader works tirelessly to share Your word. Continue to bless our clergy with your wisdom and strength. Please fulfill every need in all areas of their lives. Lead them higher, yet even closer to you, so they may also lead us. We thank You for blessings on them and within our church. Give them hope and boldness to keep the faith.

Amen

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and eight grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.


 
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