CORR's Banquet with the Bishop

CORR's Banquet with the Bishop

November 29, 2016

“We’re so blessed, this group, the Commission on Religion and Race, to have our bishop with us tonight,” said Pastor Dan Fernandez recently at CORR’s “Banquet with the Bishop” event, where the group got to spend some time with the new bishop of the Iowa Conference, Bishop Laurie Haller. Pastor Fernandez was impressed by what she had to say about the need for the church to be inclusive of all people, and he is looking forward to working “hand-in-hand” with her in ministry. This is especially important at a time when many people are feeling fearful of an unknown future.
Click here to see photos from the banquet

Click to listen to the conversation with Pastor Dan

“It is indeed very important to hear coming from our bishop, who is a Caucasian, to say those words of assurance, giving hope that even in the midst of fear and uncertainty, that we can hear from the episcopal leader in this conference that there is hope,” he said. “We have a courageous visionary who can freely express what she feels and be inclusive enough to embrace the suffering and the struggle of the people from different countries who are coming here to Iowa, and particularly the ethnic clergy as well.”

Those in attendance at the banquet demonstrated not just an ethnic and cultural diversity, but also diversity of age. “We believe that the representation of different age levels, especially the youth and the children, give us hope on how we will pass the torch of the ministry of Commission on Religion and Race,” explained Pastor Fernandez. “It is a wonderful experience for them to hear firsthand from our bishop, and at the same time to hear the concerns coming from ethnic pastors who are appointed in different local churches here in Iowa.”

He believes that these young people will ensure CORR’s mission will continue on. “We can see hope – a bright future, in spite of the reality of fear and danger that we face right now because of what’s happening in this country. But their presence tonight signifies that they are willing to learn and they are willing to hear and they are willing to do the ministry of God.”

But the event was not only about discussing questions, concerns, and the future. It was also about celebrating. “I was debating, should I bring my guitar or not? But, at the end, the music inclination wins,” laughed Pastor Fernandez. “It’s good that we can lighten up through music. Through music we can express our feelings. And we have heard from the African, the Latino, the Filipino, the Koreans, who sang ‘How Great Thou Art’ in many different languages.” The new bishop, too, revealed that she is a musically inclined person who likes to play classical music on the piano. “We’re just like her – a human being that’s been created in the image of God and who also loves music. And through that we can relate on how we can carry out our ministry.” 

By the end of the banquet, Pastor Fernandez felt very optimistic. “It’s not half empty, it’s half full. But we have work to do,” he said, determined to tackle the challenges ahead. “Sometimes we pretend or maybe deny the reality that these things exist, and we must face it. That’s the reason why the Commission on Religion and Race should be an advocate of the issues that we face right now.”

He implores both present and future generations to look to the Bible for inspiration, “to remind them that they were once a stranger in a foreign land, and God blessed them to have this wonderful country and teach the younger generation.” Pastor Fernandez looks to a future where all can sit down together in peace. “That will be our wish, and that will be our prayer, and that will be our hope.”