By Kenya Cummings
I am a preacher’s kid. My father is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church who has served in several different parishes. I have lived in four different states, seven cities and been a part of twelve different churches. I have worshiped in predominantly white churches, predominantly black churches, and churches attempting to be multicultural. My father instilled in me a commitment to church and caucusing by toting me to church conferences, events, and Black Methodist for Church Renewal meetings.
I am social worker’s kid also. My mom is a retired social worker and former child care director. She has also served as a director of a center for foster youth. I grew up with dolls with different nationalities and racial identities. I even had a Barbie who was in wheelchair. My mother taught me how to celebrate the journey. We had rituals in our home for holidays and special days.
I am the awkward middle child. I have an older brother. He spent over two decades playing in the Special Olympics. I learned that people are born with a variety of different ways of being. My brother has taught me the power of compassion and empathy. I have younger sister. She has lived in her siblings’ shadow. Yet, she uses her powerful voice to make her presence known the world.
I am a Wildcat. I graduated from the University of Kentucky. It is the historic home of the Green Dot movement, which was a response to the large number of times an incident of power-based violence (rape, stalking, etc.) was reported and a red dot was placed on the map of the campus. The University of Kentucky’s was littered with red dots. In response to the reported incidents of power-based violence (and know that unreported incidents make this number go much higher) a number of educators and students created education modules and promoted Green Dot. The culture of sexism and violence began to shift as people began to act against this kind of violence in and around campus. I learned that each of us as individuals have power. You as an individual can intervene. You see a couple arguing loudly in a parking lot, and you think, that is dangerous or I would not know what to do to stop it. That is the beauty of Green Dot.
Two classes in seminary completely changed the way I show up in the world: “Social Ethics” and “Spiritual Formation and Social Change.” These classes and my experiences called me into an active life in social change and revolution work. I was in seminary living in the middle of Ohio while black men and boys were being shot and killed by the state. I was in Ohio when young Bresha Meadows was arrested and detained.
I learned that all oppression is related. I learned the power of intersectional work. I saw how it worked while I worked with people incarnated, their families and church members. I learned how it transforms the community in my work with the “Ban the Box” movement in Ohio. I remained vigilant even after I had a health setback brought on by burnout. I know now how to keep wellness at the forefront of my intersectional work for justice.
Presently, I am a non-profit professional, wellness coach and member of the justice ministry education program at Auburn Seminary. I have joined the ranks of Fig Tree Revolution. I write and share the work that I am doing because I desperately want to live out the message in Micah 6:8 (do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God) and invite others to do the same.
Kenya is a recent graduate of Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a Master of Divinity degree. She is unapologetically black and unashamedly spiritual. She is a neo-soul loving preacher with a heart and mind for justice. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science with a minor in African American Studies. She is a church misfit committed to the revival of church and facilitating the connection between church and community. She can be found smiling, recycling, or humming hymns on most sunny days. Please check out Kenya's website: http://www.kenyaceceliarose.com/.