November 21, 2016

You may know Rev. Londia Granger Wright from her work on one of the Conference teams or committees. If you’ve been to Annual Conference in the past several years, you know her as a former Conference secretary. In these roles you’ve probably seen her as a calm, quiet presence of serenity and peace. When she is preaching: not so much.     
    
Wright delivered a rousing, spirit-filled sermon on the topic of transformational love at St. Mark UMC in Florissant for her installation service. During the sermon she broke into song multiple times, and not just gospel songs or hymns – more like Tina Turner and Meatloaf. 
    
Although the Gateway Central District sounds like the city of St. Louis to those who have been around, recent redistricting has the district reaching out as far into the country as Washington. To celebrate their new district superintendent, the Washington Praise Band provided the opening music for the service, sounding as much like a rock concert as a Sunday afternoon church service. 
    
The diversity of the district was highlighted by the reading of the Gospel in Vietnamese by Rev. Mai Hoang Lee of Faith Family UMC and the reading of the Epistle in Spanish by Rev. Rolando Quiroz of Gray Summit/Labadie UMCs. The St. Andrew UMC choir led the music during the service. Jeffery Heyl, music director of Green Trails UMC, sang The Lord’s Prayer. 
 

    
Speaking on transformation, Wright commented on a television commercial that said butter is transformational for potatoes. She disagreed. 
    
“You put a plop of butter on a potato, and you still just have a potato,” she said. 
    
Wright mentioned the plight of the refugees in Syria and how aid workers have been killed trying to get life-saving supplies to them. 
    
“The world needs the transformational love that only God can give,” she said. Transformational love was extended through the offering collected at the service; $2,200 was given to help create a new orphanage in Mozambique. 
    
Wright has also seen the church offering transformational love close to home. After a Missouri bill passed to lower the interest rates on payday loans, Wright felt the love. “I felt whole. I felt there was hope for the world,” she said. 
    
Wright is a St. Louis native born in Homer G. Phillips hospital. “People would say if you got shot or stabbed, Homer G. was the place to go,” she said. 
    
She graduated from Sumner High school. Many of her classmates are dead or in prison. None of the houses that she grew up in are still standing. Her installation at St. Marks in Florissant was not far from the epicenter of racial unrest that erupted in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown. To have hope for the future, transformational love is needed.
    
“When you are transformed by God’s love you can do strange things, like work on race relations,” she said. “You can have conversations with people who didn’t graduate from the same high school as you. If you’re playing church, stop wasting your time. This isn’t a social club. It’s all about Jesus.”
    
For transformational love to be effective, it must be shared. 
    
“People who say they don’t know the Bible well enough to witness: You just need to tell your story of how Jesus has changed your life,” Wright said. 
    
Bishop Robert Farr said he couldn’t be more pleased than to have Wright as part of his Cabinet. 
    
“She has served churches with excellence and dedication and has a heart this big (holding his hands far apart) for reaching people for Jesus,” he said.