Since its founding in 1970, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience (CBE), located ate Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, has empowered and trained persons to be prophetic “leaders among leaders.” Fifty years later, CBE alums continue to make significant impacts on our churches, communities, and the world.
Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary is one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries supported by the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment of the United Methodist Church.
Aware recently reached out to CBE alums who graduated in the past 20 years to learn more about them and their ministries.
Each was asked to consider the following question:
Given what you know from your own vocational journeys and life experiences, why is it important to be mindful of the flourishing of Black community/communities? And how have you tended to this ministry work, especially in times like the present—overrun with challenge, fear, and uncertainty?
Below is the response from Rev. Pamela Pirtle, (GETS 2015) Director of Leadership, Development and Accountability at the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
“When I look over my life and consider the reasons I have come to this space, I’m reminded of the influence of my parents and so many others who have gone on before me. I stand today on the shoulders of those who thought it was their duty and responsibility as a Christian to extend themselves on behalf of others, . When I consider the works of Jesus Christ as my example for ministry, I am left with no other alternative but to be mindful of my Black community and its need to flourish in spite of the times we live.
Black folk historically have been challenged, facing fears and living with an uncertain future. This is a part of who we are, people who live in the midst of struggle, yet find a way to have hope for better days. The Gospel comes to provide hope and an expected outcome of liberty for all. So, my life experiences have shown me that even the “least of these” are yet made in the image of God. I’m reminded by a statement from Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. that we are all “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Therefore, I cannot look down on my sister or brother without having a desire to lift as I climb.
This is not unique for me, for we all are commanded to love one another and love should cause all of us to be moved to action and not be idle spectators. With everything I do, I try to ensure that my voice is the voice of those who represent the minority, voiceless, and often marginalized. Yes, we do live in turbulent times, and many of us are struggling to find God in the midst of this pandemic. However, I am compelled to shine a light on the cross of Christ and expose the darkness that exists in the world so that all people can be free. This is how I, as Dietrich Boenhoffer referred, share in “Christ’s large-heartedness.””
by Rev. Pamela Pirtle, Director of Leadership, Development and Accountability, General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, The United Methodist Church Chicago, Illinois
One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Ministerial Education Fund is at the heart of preparing people for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The 13 United Methodist seminaries help students to discover their calling through the challenging curriculum. The fund enables the church to increase financial support for recruiting and educating ordained and diaconal ministers and to equip annual conferences to meet increased demands. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Ministerial Education Fund apportionment at 100 percent.