The year 2020 went down in history as one of the longest years ever. While it held the same number of days as any other year since the institution of the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, it also held seemingly endless months of quarantine, death, uncertainty, racial protest, and leadership insecurity. The rush to get over a global pandemic led to the premature re-opening of businesses, colossal unemployment, and what felt like an unexpected stay at a remote winter cabin, at just the time you were supposed to be experiencing seasons of re-birth and growth.
“Yet there is always another side,” said Rev. Dr. Lisa D. Jenkins (D.Min.’20), the tenth pastor and first female pastor of St. Matthew’s Baptist Church in Harlem, New York. “Setting our sights on the other side is what keeps us going. It’s what gives us hope. It’s what makes the effort worth it. You see the new condition, the new place or the new state of mind you want to live in.”
Rev. Dr. Jenkins has had to remind herself of The Other Side of Through, a collection of sermons on hope, empowerment, justice and faith she published last year as her church and family lost beloved members. “As a Black preacher, I’m tasked with digging into the Scripture to convey hope and justice in the bleakest of situations,” said Rev. Dr. Jenkins, a graduate of McCormick’s Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Scholars: AfricanCentered Religious Thought and Ministry and adjunct lecturer at the City University of New York. “I’m a New Yorker, but the folks who raised me—my parents were from the Deep South. They lived in a world that made no sense. But they shared a faith that said you can still believe that good will outweigh the bad, that love will overshadow hate, and that evil will be destroyed. The way to the other side is to never dismiss the hard disciplines of a crisis but stay the course and embrace the rigors of the journey that will enable you to achieve the goal.”
Getting to the other side of “through” has always called for determination on the part of Rev. Dr. Jenkins. “Despite what others say, you have to know God’s call on your life,” said Rev. Jenkins, who has taught at New York Theological Seminary. “When others say things that are tailored to destroy your faith, you have to tell yourself, ‘obviously they’re talking to someone else.’”