Rev. Vicki Flippin

Vicki is the Co-President of the MFSA Board of Directors, an Elder in the New York Annual Conference and a justice seeking person of faith.

 

Who are you?

After the shooting in Orlando, many Latinx people spoke and wrote about how Latin night at the queer club was often the only place that felt like home, that allowed one to truly feel alive as one's whole self. In a sermon I heard the week after, Pastor Alexis Francisco of New Day Church compared that feeling of safe true home to what Jesus felt in his baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon him and the heavens declared that he was a beloved child of in whom God delights. Since then, I have been thinking about that feeling of true home, where one is safe and valued as a whole self. It is, like the in-breaking of the Spirit, like the kin-dom of God, something that I am aware of and present to only in glimpses. But those glimpses tell a bit about who I am, and your attention to them will make me feel more known and valued. Born in the city of Taipei and raised by a farmer's daughter in Missouri, I feel at home in the smells of both big city exhaust fumes and fresh cow patties. As the daughter of a stay-at-home Chinese dad who cooked every one of my meals for 18 years, I feel at home with the taste of soy sauced tofu, steaming sweet soy milk, and long thick noodles. Once the mother of a breast-feeding infant, I have felt most at home in a Baby and Me yoga class, where we were free to alternate Downward Dog with nourishing children, where we used Warrior II to heal from the creative trauma of childbirth. As a Hapa woman who grew up in a white and Black town, my Asian cheekbones framed by brunette hair first felt at home on the island of Maui, where, for the first time, I didn’t feel too Asian or too white. And, as a justice seeking person of faith, I feel most at home singing Mark Miller songs with people whom I trust with all of our complexities of privilege and oppression.

Where do you come from?

I come from parents whose life stories have deeply impacted mine. My father was born to a second wife in Hunan province in 1925. He joined the Chinese navy and, after losing the continent to the communists, was exiled to Taiwan with the Chinese government in 1949. He never saw his mother again and was not allowed to see his home again for forty years. After retiring from the military, he became an accountant at a Methodist university in Taipei, where he met my mother. My mother grew up in a very Methodist family in rural Missouri. Like many children of farmers, she has the quintessential story of taking care of the “pet” pig, and then finding her beloved friend in a roast on the kitchen table. She was the first in her family to go to college and became a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries. She spent 14 years in Taiwan, teaching English and then, after getting her PhD in psychology, teaching at the university where my father worked. And so the dreamy missionary professor married the charming veteran in the same Taiwan Methodist Church where their baby would be baptized.

Why are you (still) here?

As a child, my greatest passion was science. The book and film that defined me was Carl Sagan’s Contact, and my dream was to be an astrobiologist and seek out life elsewhere in the universe. Looking back on that time, my calling was always to follow my awe and to live out the implications of that which transcends the day-to-day cares of this world. In college on the South Side of Chicago, I read Marx and Malcolm X and saw real racial and economic disparity for the first time for what it was—a spiritual disease whose treatment must be fundamentally spiritual in nature. Studying abroad in India and worshiping with local missionaries, I forgave my religion for its most bloody imperial sins. And today, I am following a crooked, life-giving calling to build transformative faith communities that embody and multiply love, justice, and courage. And, even though I have found our church family to be in a state of sin and despair, I am still here because of you. Because of the people who journey with me, who inspire me, who care about all of me, who teach me and listen to me, who take risks for me and make me better and braver, who make me feel like home is in our midst.

What are you most passionate about?

I have spent the last five years as the associate pastor of Church of the Village in Manhattan. This multi-racial, queer-affirming congregation has loved me and respected me and restored my dignity in a religious milieu that does not make a habit of lifting up young biracial female leaders. This and many other congregations have done the same for many people who feel undervalued and unwelcome in the church, and they have given me hope and vision for what our church could be. Last year, I felt an exciting call to plant churches. I have shared that call, and next week I will move to another amazing progressive church in Manhattan, St. Paul and St. Andrew. There, I will work with young people and begin to plant new multi-racial, queer-affirming Christian communities. I believe God is calling us into a state of revolution, in which—no matter what the bishops and the General Conferences do, no matter what institutional baggage may be dragging behind us—we must begin the work of building the church and the churches that will make manifest the kin-dom of God for future generations. That is my passion, and I am grateful to be engaging in this work with you.

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