Joyce Reingold’s piece on the Everglades Club employee who is suing for discrimination that led to rape brings to mind what is, for me, one of the biggest changes I have experienced from growing up at a church like Bethesda-by-the-Sea to the one I work for: one’s relationship with minorities, some of which work at places like the Everglades Club.
In my early years of working for the Church of God, I got to know the Executive Director of Church of God Black Ministries, Asbury Sellers (photo at right.) When I tell people I grew up in Palm Beach, most let it pass. Not Bishop Sellers. He quizzed me down extensively on where exactly in Palm Beach I had lived. I ended up giving him driving directions to the place, at which point he was satisfied I wasn’t a poser. How could he do this? He had been a pastor at one of our churches across the lake, and doubtless some of his church members worked on the island.
Many of our churches in South Florida are black churches, be they African-American, Haitian, West Indian, or what not. We also have a rapidly growing (approx. 20% of our local churches) group of Hispanic churches. We serve these people through conferences (my superior was in North Miami last weekend to speak at a men’s conference at a West Indian church,) support for their men’s and evangelistic ministries, and product sales. They are our brothers and sisters, and they’re great people (take a look at this posting from a recent leader’s conference in Orlando to see the composition of a Church of God delegation.)
When you are put in a position where you deal with such a diverse group of people as equals, your whole perspective changes. It’s put me in a position of dealing with people whom I would have never rubbed shoulders with had I stuck with the social circle I was raised in. But I’m certainly the better for it, and have had a lot of fun in the process.
I’m adding Joyce Reingold’s blog–PB Upd8–to my blogroll. It will give you a unique perspective of what’s going on in a place like Palm Beach.