News and Views

A postcard home from Zimbabwe: Pastors’ School session closes

Posted by Melissa Lauber on

By Melissa Lauber

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling is one of the best preachers in The United Methodist Church. When she ascends to a pulpit, she becomes a mixture of ancient story-telling griot, wisdom bearer, word acrobat, fire-breathing dragon, exegetical scholar, Pentecostal wind, and your beloved grandmother on some of her better days.

It’s a strong amalgamation that stirs the soul. She shares the word of God in a way that you get a new understanding of the prophets of old when they said, “Thus sayeth the Lord.”

At the closing worship at the Pastors’ School in Zimbabwe July 22, Bishop Easterling preached.  She began her sermon with a song, “Give Me a Clean Heart.” She then challenged those present to adopt Socrates’ statement that “an unexamined life is not worth living,” and asked the pastors to consider that “an undisciplined call is not worth giving.”

“How we live is how we give glory back to God,” she said. In a nutshell, the bishop told the people when our deepest motivation is not love, souls are sacrificed and we “operate beneath the dignity of God’s amazing grace.”

It was a message of power to close the five-day session and begin a new phase in the partnership between United Methodists in Zimbabwe and the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Later that evening, the Rev. Kirkland Reynolds, pastor at Chevy Chase UMC, reflected on how his experience at the Pastors’ School was a time of spiritual growth, for him and for many of the pastors he encountered. It is one of his hopes, he said, for his prayer to begin to move beyond word and become prayers of action.

He was not alone. As the final benediction was given, living prayers went forth – some to catch a plane home to Dulles Airport and others to their homes throughout Zimbabwe – connected by the cross and flame and passion to be a universal translation of Christ to their neighbors and the world.