Today I got to meet Glennon Doyle.
Last year when it was announced she was going to be a keynote speaker at the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, I frankly was “Who’s that?”
But her presentation at Synod blew me away with its vulnerability, its honesty, its raw and relevant way of sharing the gospel.
So, I was excited with the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ announced she would be keynoting their annual meeting. The Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota Conferences have now entered into a Tri-Conference arrangement, so we are working together on ministry.
Of course friends said, “You have to go and give her your book.”
You may not know me, but I’m not a self-promoter. I’m really not. I know what I would think if some random person handed me their book–“yeah . . .” But people insisted, so I did.
We had a brief chat. I told her that I had worked on the Cathedral of Hope staff with her current pastor at Naples UCC, Dawson Taylor. And she congratulated me on the book, admiring the cover with its rainbows. Then she read the first sentence on the back and said, “I like that first sentence. You’ve been through something haven’t you?”
Today’s gathering in West Des Moines was wonderful. Our Executive Conference Minister Brigit Stevens interviewed Lawrence T. Richardson first. He shared with eloquent wisdom his story of poverty, race, gender, faith, family, and ministry. He also has a memoir recently published.
Then Brigit and Glennon conversed, and again I was simply blown away by her skilled ability to communicate profound ideas through her own vulnerability. A few takeaway quotes/paraphrases:
- Shame is confusion about being human.
- Unless joy is your daily act of resistance you won’t make it.
- “The barrier to empathy that is life changing is fragility.”
She also said, “Right now we are going through the apocalypse.” But then she explained that “apocalypse” means an unveiling. She said what is happening right now is that the reality that people of color and other marginalized communities have always experienced is being revealed to comfortable white people. It’s now in their faces and they can’t avoid it anymore. So, this is a difficult, painful time and it will probably last for a while. But, she thinks something good has happened by this unveiling and that we won’t be able to go backwards.
I found this very encouraging.
Brigit pointed out when interviewing both Lawrence and Glennon that right now the most effective leaders are those who are leading from vulnerability. Each of them discussed the importance of being open and how to be open in healthy ways. I learned a lot about my own adventure into vulnerability and openness with this memoir.
Thanks God for a great day.