Michael Carrion is the founding and senior pastor of Promised Land Covenant Churches in the North and South Bronx, and the founding chairman and superintendent of the Bronx Academy of Promise K-8 Charter School. Carrion serves as vice president of church planting and leadership development for Redeemer City to City in New York City and is the regional coach for church planting and development for the Evangelical Covenant Church. He also serves on the board of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. Carrion received his M.Div. from Alliance Theological Seminary.
Rev. Dr. Michael Carrion pastors in the North and South Bronx — part of the poorest congressional district in the nation and located in a U.S. coronavirus hotspot. At the time of the podcast recording, 15 members of his church had died due to COVID-19. Pastor Carrion clings to hope as he also mourns for all that has been lost and advocates for the vulnerable.
In Today’s Conversation podcast hosted by NAE President Walter Kim, Michael describes:
- How the health crisis unfolded in his community;
- What the coronavirus pandemic reveals about racial inequities in our country;
- How Christians in different areas of the country can identify with brothers and sisters who are facing greater hardship; and
- What steps the church and its pastors have taken to address trauma and mental health concerns in their community.
Read a Portion of the Transcript
Walter: You’ve talked about the need for processing. You yourself have gone through that. Clearly, you’re encouraging your staff and other pastors to go through that. Are there other practical tips that you would give to those in leadership who themselves are experiencing vicarious trauma?
Michael: Talk about it. One thing that we’ve noticed in our sessions is that if you come from a family of origin where there was already underlying trauma that was never dealt with, that resurges in this. It almost awakens things. A lot of our folks have been articulating, “I didn’t realize but now I know.” So, any leader that’s providing trauma or experiencing that find a place to center, find a person to speak to, find a place of rest.
You know, pastors, we never punch in and we never punch out. We just don’t. We just keep going. We’re so unhealthy, Walter. We don’t know how to turn it off. We don’t know how to read our Bibles without finding a sermon for them. We have to find a sermon for us. In this time, your devotional time, and place before God, this is where you find restoration in the shadow of the Almighty. You have to get into the shadow. In the shadow there’s a therapist, the Holy Spirit. And surrender. I’m not talking about religiosity, I’m talking about surrender and talk to somebody then look for joy.
I’ve seen weeping enduring, Walter. I’m looking for joy. I’m looking for joy in the stories and the narratives of churches that are experiencing revival. I’m looking for joy in the narratives of churches that are rethinking and re-imagining their church, their ecclesiology, and launching missional communities. I am finding joy in people getting out of the ICU and off of the breathing tube. I’m looking for joy in people getting jobs — and we’re in the middle of a depression.
The church is hurting. The church is bruised in New York. Everybody’s hungry. We got a small grant, and we’re putting out thousands of dollars of food just because people are hungry, Walter. It’s fighting the trauma, but it’s also fighting the economic reality. How do you find peace when you’re physically fighting a virus and then you’re worried about being evicted, and then you’re worried about feeding your children?
You better be in the shadow of the Most High. You better find refuge in God and stay connected. That’s the other thing — we isolate. I would encourage people who are suffering trauma to connect, connect, connect. Accountability, accountability, accountability.
Share the Love
If you enjoyed the program, please rate it on iTunes and write a brief review. That will help get the word out and raise the visibility of the show.
- NAE Coronavirus Response & Resources
- Care Package for the Church
- Promised Land Covenant Church
- “A pastor in the Bronx thought he knew hardship. Then his church saw 13 coronavirus deaths.” – Washington Post article
Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Christian Community Credit Union.