Second of two parts
We finally made it to 2021.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a blank slate.
Although there’s plenty we’d likely rather forget, 2020 offered many valuable lessons.
So we asked community members to reflect on the past year and their intentions for the year ahead.
‘I learned that a crisis reveals what is inside of you’
Formerly the lead pastor at Parklawn Assembly of God in Sherman Park, Bishop Walter Harvey continues to serve in an advisory role. In addition, he is the CEO of Prism Economic Development Corp. and board president of the National Black Fellowship of the Assemblies of God.
Sir Winston Churchill is credited with first saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
The lesson I want to hold onto from 2020 is the power of “review.” I learned that a crisis reveals what is inside of you. Sports coaches review and watch game film after a victory or a loss to learn what happened and why. I learned that when tough times, testing or temptations come, they can reveal what is deeper inside of you.
Three particular areas are worthy of closer examination: unresolved issues, unhealed hurts, and unmet needs. If unexamined and unchecked, any of these three can cause the state of crisis to continue. Therefore, I will review and ask “why” an awful lot in 2021.
My goals in 2021 include leading a local and national recalibration of what it means to “be the Church” versus going to church. In 2020, the traditional way of religious expression, attending church in the building was limited and, in many cases, closed down.
In the game of chess, the “queen” is the most powerful piece on the board. The “queen” of the traditional church has been the building or location. God allowed our “queen” to be removed.
I am confident that His good and perfect plans and power will still win the game because I have long believed the original intent of Jesus was for His followers to engage as ambassadors in the marketplace of life and not just for a few hours on the weekend inside the church building.
My goal corporately is to lead a reformation movement back to what it means to be the “ekklesia” (the original word Jesus used to describe His plan and pattern for His people on earth in Matthew 16:18).
My goal personally is to live out this value daily by growing in relationship with intimate groups of friends, family and neighbors.
‘We were all swept up by the tidal waves of 2020’
Eloisa Gómez is a poet and voting rights advocate who co-authored “Somos Latinas: Voices of Wisconsin Latina Activists.”
Some lessons seem clearer to me than others. As I try to make sense of this past year, I know more lessons will emerge.
2020 — I’d call it the Year of the Tsunamis. One huge tidal wave after another overwhelming our global, national and local communities.
Some did not survive the year and those of us that did lived those the crests and falls of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the loss of individual and family incomes, the loss of lives in police custody and corresponding take-to-the-street protests of the Black Lives Matter movement and backlash by white supremacy groups. If that was not more than enough, we dealt with voter suppression tactics to eliminate people’s right to vote in all four 2020 elections.
Each day, I struggled with my fears, feelings of helplessness and a feeling that the small contributions I was making were not enough. Those emotions were countered often, however, by the bravery of every-day people. From personal experiences and those I watched on TV, I witnessed inspiring acts of heroism and sheroism — of all ages and races.
Many every-day citizens stepped forward; each deciding to risk and/or be generous with their lives. Medical staff treating patients at hospitals, the array of other first-responders, migrant workers harvesting our fruit and vegetables, persons going to the polls to vote, helpers of the homeless and the hungry, those that went into the streets to call for humane and racist-free policing and so many more brave and selfless actions of others to name here.
We were all swept up by the tidal waves of 2020 and yet I learned much about who we are as a people. I have a greater admiration for the every-day citizen as risk takers, the helper to strangers and all other building-community actions under these difficult times.
In 2021, I plan to continue my involvement in working with others to increase voter awareness as a way to support democracy, particularly in Milwaukee’s Latinx community.
I also plan to learn more about historical discriminations and to become more aware of my biases that limit me from more fully supporting and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of our society.
‘2020 provided a reminder of our ability to persevere’
Zachery Lathen-Williams is an author and co-host of the “Convince Me Otherwise” podcast.
There’s one quote that, for me, encapsulates 2020:
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Throughout the course of my life, I’ve found that whenever I set my intention on attaining a particular goal, obstacles immediately presented themselves. Typically, I’ve been able to traverse any road my aspirations would take me. However, 2020 was formidable.
I had plans, as we all did. Many of them were derailed by the pandemic. For those of us who are spiritual, we might reference scripture “many plans are in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose which prevails.”
It is human nature to attempt to make sense of things, but in an unprecedented year of loss, from COVID-19 and racial injustice, amplified by political incompetence— or unwillingness (looking at you Washington, D.C.) it’s difficult, even for the most religious or optimistic of people to find a silver lining.
Nevertheless, as bleak as it may be, it is there. Each one of us that presses on in hopes for a brighter tomorrow showcases that unyielding hope. I believe 2020 provided a reminder of our ability to persevere. I’ll carry that with me as we inch closer to a new year.
In case you missed it: