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New York Times Best Selling Author Annie F. Downs joins Latasha Morrison on the Be the Bridge Podcast to talk through deep laments and fun hopes. Annie shares the beautiful story of her ordination and her journey to getting there. They talk about the difference of perspectives between predominantly white churches and Black churches when it comes to women as pastors.

Annie allows the Be the Bridge community to hear some of the tragedy and trauma that happened in her community with the Covenant School shooting. And they also talk about the beauty of living a yes and life – letting joy and sorrow coexist. The discussion about Reading through the Gospels is a reminder of who Jesus is and what He calls His followers to.

Be encouraged by Annie and Latasha’s conversation to stay grounded in the work you do, because it outlasts you.

Join in the conversation on our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn to let us know your thoughts on this episode! 

Host & Executive Producer – Latasha Morrison
Senior Producer – Lauren C. Brown
Producer, Editor, & Music – Travon Potts with Integrated Entertainment Studios
Assistant Producer & Transcriber – Sarah Connatser

Quotes:
“To what degree am I privileged and how can I use that?” -Annie Downs

“Pains are never wasted.” -Latasha Morrison

Links:
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Resources Mentioned:
That Sounds Fun Podcast Network
That Sounds Fun book by Annie F. Downs
Chase the Fun book by Annie F. Downs
100 Days to Brave book by Annie F. Downs
Remember God book by Annie F. Downs
Let’s Read the Gospels Podcast

Connect with Annie F. Downs:
Her Website
Facebook
Instagram
YouTube

Connect with Be the Bridge:
Our Website
Facebook
Instagram
Threads
Twitter

Connect with Latasha Morrison:
Facebook
Instagram
Threads
Twitter

Not all views expressed in this interview reflect the values and beliefs of Latasha Morrison or the Be the Bridge organization.

Narrator
You are listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast with Latasha Morrison.

Latasha Morrison
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!

Narrator
Each week, Be the Bridge Podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.

Latasha Morrison
[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.

Narrator
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society, but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.

Latasha Morrison
Be the bridge community, I have a special one for you. Now, I cannot believe this person has never been on the Be the Bridge Podcast. Y’all. She is like, look she can’t even wait. She can’t even wait. I’ve been on her podcast. We are on her network. (laughter) And I have for you a special treat. None other than Annie F. Downs.

Annie Downs
Hi Tasha! I’m so honored to be on here!

Latasha Morrison
I know, I know. Listen, this is gonna be a good one. We’re gonna talk about some light things, some heavy things, and all the things. But I just want to mention this. I think since the last time I spoke with you, Annie F. Downs is a New York Times bestselling author.

Annie Downs
Tasha Morrison is a New York Times bestselling author. Have boats have you gotten to buy? How many soccer teams are you purchasing? Oh, it didn’t change? It didn’t change anything? Interesting.

Latasha Morrison
Exactly. That’s what everybody need to realize right. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Just to get the monkey off of our back. That’s all it does. It gets the monkey off of our back. And we are grateful.

Latasha Morrison
Everybody thinks, “Oh my god, then you did you did that, then…” No. It don’t work like that.

Annie Downs
No, it means we still went to work the next day. I actually still live in the same house. I still have to put my own clothes on my body.

Latasha Morrison
(laughter) But your new introduction is a New York Times bestselling author. And successful speaker.

Annie Downs
That’s right. My publisher says they can’t ever take it away. Once a New York Times bestselling author…we don’t have to write one other book.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
And that can still be on our tombstone if we so choose.

Latasha Morrison
Right. It’s like the Grammys for books. Right?

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it’s getting to say, “I’m Grammy nominated. I’m a Grammy winner.” Yeah. So, it only has to work one time. One week.

Latasha Morrison
One week. (laughter) I love it.

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. It ain’t gotta last too long.

Latasha Morrison
I love it. But you know, Annie is a sought after speaker. She has a successful podcast. She also has a successful podcast network, that we are on, entitled That Sounds Fun. She is engaging, honest, she makes readers and listeners alike feel like they have been friends for a long time. And that’s what I love about Annie. She is the co founder of That Sounds Fun Network. And so she has written several books. And I just want to name just a few of those. Okay? Because she has a lot under her belt. I want to be like her when I grew up. The one book is called That Sounds Fun. Yeah, see, I just like, I’m just like, I like that she gets to write about fun. So I’m gonna live through you on this podcast today. She has multiple best selling books, including Chase the Fun, 100 Days to Brave, and Remember God. Annie is the friend who will shoot straight with you, remind you that God is good, and still manage to make you laugh in the process. And so that is so true.

Annie Downs
Aww thanks friend. It sure is the goal.

Latasha Morrison
I’m grateful to have you on the podcast. So I mean, there’s been a lot happening like, in your life, in Nashville. Let’s just kind of you know, let’s just kind of run down to things. Number one, I want to talk about something that just happened. You were ordained. I want to hear a little bit about that, what that means, and you know, and I mean, you’ve already been walking in it. You know?

Annie Downs
Yeah, thank you.

Latasha Morrison
So it’s good to see it acknowledged.

Annie Downs
I’m happy to tell you. I haven’t really talked about this anywhere. So exclusive. Alert. Alert. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
Okay! Exclusive for the Be the Bridge Podcast community. And our community loves a little tea. So this is a little tea. (laughter)

Annie Downs
This is the inside. So here’s like, I’ll back you up just a little bit. I started teaching on Sunday mornings, which, for everyone, I’m a female. If you don’t know that by my name. And so I started teaching on Sunday mornings, which was not something I saw growing up. I didn’t see women teach church on Sunday mornings. And I got invited to start doing that probably in 2016, 2017. And I would just say yes. I never considered not saying yes, because I thought, well, this church is bringing me in and they know who they’re inviting. They know I’m a female. But then I started having these conversations with some of our peers. And our peers were saying, “Oh, I say no to those.” “Oh, I don’t do those.” And I was like, “What? Okay.” And so then I kind of had to go on a journey of like, wait, some of the women I really respect in our profession, choose not to do this. And, I had not thought enough about it. Honestly. I was choosing to do it, because I love speaking. And I think it’s so fun. And I love talking to dudes.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And I also think that family can look a lot of ways, but what we know is the healthiest family is led by a mom and a dad who both have a voice. And so I was, the family of God should be the same. The family of God should have mothering voices and fathering voices that work together to bring the children of the family closer together and closer to God. And so, I did my own research. And that’s where I ended up was, “Okay, I feel good about this. I feel good about Sunday mornings, especially when – and this is the only option for me, because I haven’t planted a church and I don’t think I will – but especially when someone has invited me into their church family and said, ‘We trust your voice here.'” So that’s how it started. About two and a half years ago now, two of my friends who are younger men in my life, they’re like little brothers to me, they got engaged on the same weekend. And they both pretty quickly asked me to perform their weddings. And I was like, “What an honor. I have no papers that allow me to do this.” (laughter) And, you know, there’s all that like, from watching Friends, people think you can just get online and get ordained in eight minutes or whatever. And there is a version of that. But I thought, “That’s not me. That doesn’t work for me.” So I went to our pastors, I go to Cross Point Church in Nashville. And so I went to our pastors and I said, “Hey, I have these opportunities. Tell me where we are on this. Tell me how I do this. What do you think?” And Pastor Doug, who runs kind of the pastoral training and ordination track at our church, kind of said, “Okay, it starts like this. You take this class for a year.” So Tasha, you know, our schedules.

Latasha Morrison
Oh my gosh.

Annie Downs
You know. And they’re like, “It’s every other Tuesday for an entire school year. And you have to be at church. And it’s an hour and a half.” And I was like, “I will never have time to do this.” But the same is true when people say, “I don’t have enough money to have kids.” “I’ll never be able to go back to school.” “I’ll never be able to get a second job.” When you do it, you do it.

Latasha Morrison
Right, right.

Annie Downs
You just make it work. And so for a year, I made it work. We read about ten, I mean, it’s a seminary type class, we read about 10 books on theology and talked about it. And so at the end of that class, I had my licensure. So at that point, I can do weddings and funerals. And honestly, Tasha, that’s where I was going to stop.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
I was like, “I’m not trying to be Reverend AFD. I ain’t trying to be out here with a label, I’m just trying to do these weddings legally, and sign my name.” You know?

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And at the end of the first year, your second year is the ordination year.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
And the Pastor, Doug just kind of started asking me, we started talking about it. And then I went to Israel with some of our church. And particularly it was some older people from our church, just older than me, I’m in my 40s. They were in their 50s and 60s. And we were baptizing in the Jordan River, Tasha, and I, it was me and one of our pastors were, there were two sets of us baptizing our team.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
And the Lord and I just had this moment where the Lord was like, “You think every time you get on stage, you have to fight to be respected. And you have to fight to win, particularly the men’s respect. I’m showing you you are fighting for something you have and you are wasting energy.” And I was like, “Oh, oh, oh, I need to finish this process.” Because the reason I’m not finishing it when I got real honest with myself, Tasha. Now we’re having like coffee talk, like people aren’t hearing me.

Latasha Morrison
Right, right. Everyone look. I’m like getting my tea right here.

Annie Downs
This is tea for real. I wasn’t, I didn’t have this language at the time. But what I’ve understood in the last year is I didn’t want to finish ordination because I didn’t want people to not like me if they didn’t agree with it. And I didn’t want to cause a stir that wasn’t necessary. And I didn’t want people to say, “Well, I know she preaches on Sunday, and I know she’s a pastor, but I still don’t trust her or respect or whatever.” I wasn’t willing to take that risk. But I didn’t have those words. I just knew I didn’t want to do it. It felt like too much work. So, then I decided to do it. And what you have to do at Cross Point is, it is a paper you write that is 20 pages, Tasha. I mean it is like 1000s of words.

Latasha Morrison
Wow.

Annie Downs
And you go through the 10 core beliefs of Cross Point Church and you have to defend them. And you have to defend them using scripture and using the books we read. So it’s like a thesis that you write. Someone else asked me, you know, a lot of people who actually get their like doctorates and their masters, they publish their thesis. And I was like, “Nobody cares about this.” (laughter) Like, this isn’t interesting. I mean, it’s beautiful, because it’s why is God God? And why is the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit? And what’s the Trinity? And what do we believe about service? And, I mean, it’s a beautiful concept, but nobody wants to read me defending the 10 Cross Point beliefs. And then Tasha, you have to gather a council, an ordination council. And Pastor Doug gives you like, the six seats you have to fill through people across Cross Point. So like, a lead pastor, a campus pastor, an elder, a member at large. And so you have to kind of fill, you have to fill those seats; you have to get everybody together, including Pastor Doug for two and a half hours. And you have to defend your paper.

Latasha Morrison
Wow.

Annie Downs
You sit there, and they have to have a couple of weeks with your paper before that meeting.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
So they all came to my office. And I bribed them with doughnuts and coffee. And forgetting our church was on a fast so nobody ate anything, because they were all fasting. I was like, “Geez, I was trying to bribe y’all and y’all out here being spiritual. I’m trying to get you to eat some sugar.” (laughter) And so Tasha, the interesting thing is for like the first 90 minutes, I defended my paper. They would say, “Hey, what about this part? And what about this part? What do you think scripture really says about this?” And then we took about a 10 minute break, and then Tasha, they came back and they’re like, “Tell us about how you use your money. Tell us about who you confess to. Tell us about who knows what’s going on.” I mean, one of the questions was, “Is there anything we could hear about you from anyone else that you haven’t confessed to someone.”

Latasha Morrison
Wow.

Annie Downs
I mean, because they’re not playing. Right? They’re not just handing this stuff out. They’re like, “If you’re gonna be called a pastor in our church, we need to know,” as someone said to me, after my ordination, they said, “Once a pastor, always a pastor.” Which you hear stuff like that. But they said, “Once a pastor, always a pastor, everywhere a pastor.” And that, like, I mean, it gives me goosebumps saying it to you. Because it means that I’m accountable everywhere, to God and to Crosspoint and to my leadership there in a new way. And in the middle of this, I forgot to tell you this part, I’m almost done. In the middle of this, I realized, “What am I agreeing to?” (laughter) So I emailed Pastor Doug, and I’m like, “Hey, I’m halfway through my paper. But what does this mean? Like what am I actually saying? I understand the title, but what am I saying?” And he says, “All ordination is, is saying to God, I will serve you with my life. I will do ministry with my life through this particular vehicle.” So in the Baptist Church, the men who are pastors in the Baptist Church have said, “I will be a, I will do ministry forever through a Baptist”….so whether that’s Student Life or whether that’s Lottie Moon, the missionary stuff, or whether that’s a pastor at a local church. Right? Well, when you’re a non denominational church, there aren’t other options. And so it’s like, hey, for as far as I can see – and in a in a season of the world, Tasha, where it is really easy to church hop. You know this. I mean, a church says something you don’t like, and you’re out. Or all your friends leave and go somewhere else, because everybody’s going somewhere else, you go somewhere else.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And so I’ve just had to take this, we’ve had some really painful things happen in our church, you know, these stories with me. But where we’ve had pastors who made terrible choices, and not only damaged themselves and their families, but damaged all of us. And it feels so easy to go across town. It feels so easy to pick the other church that everybody goes to.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And the thing I felt the Lord whisper to me and affected my decision to get ordained at Cross Point was, “Hey, if this was 200 years ago, and there was one town in this church, what would you do?” And you stay and you fix it. This is your community; you stay and you fix it. And so until God tells me to do something else, my call is to stay. And to be a part of what God’s doing at Cross Point verses, “This is hard, and this is hard. And I don’t agree with this person, and therefore I’m out.” That’s not everybody’s call. And there are certainly times where you have to move on. I mean, Carlos Whittaker and I talk about this a lot because we were in Cross Point together in 2016 when our pastor left. And Carlos’ family felt called to go somewhere else. And I felt called to stay. And both of our obediences have been honored by God.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And so so that’s the ordination story. So then about a month, oh sorry. So you finish the interview, where they are, like, lifting up the corners of the rug. I mean, they are not letting anything go unseen. And then they write up a report, turn it into the elders, and then the elders vote. And it has to be unanimous. And I don’t know why, Tasha. I’ll never know, I hope, but it took them two months.

Latasha Morrison
Oh my gosh! Two months!

Annie Downs
I don’t know why. I don’t want to know. (laughter) I don’t want to know why the elders took two months to vote. I don’t know what happened the first month, whether they never got to me, or someone was dissenting. But it took two months of voting before I got it back. And it was really kind. The head elder called me and, you know, I just cried on the phone because I thought five years ago I was wrestling with…I mean, 12 years ago Christine Caine and I and she and I talked about this when she was on my podcast. Chris and I had a really long conversation about whether women can be pastors. So this is a decade long journey for me. And so, I’m honored. I will not change my title publicly. People aren’t gonna have to introduce me that way.

Latasha Morrison
So you’re not the Reverend Annie? (laughter)

Annie Downs
No, no, but I hope when people start sending me wedding invitations and stuff, it’s like the Right Reverend Annie F. Downs. Please, please now wedding invitations change. But don’t change me in your phone, don’t change me in your phone. (laughter) But it is an honor. Right? To serve God like that. And for your church to trust you. Male or female.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, right.

Annie Downs
For your church to say, “We have found that you serve God in a way that we trust you to lead us,” is no joke, man. I mean, that is no joke to me. I take it, I mean, once a pastor, always pastor, everywhere a pastor.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, I remember, this is you know, when you’re, I’m listening to you tell this story. And, you know, in the Black church it’s a bit different. You know? I know denominationally. But I became a Christian in college, and I became a Christian up under a female pastor. So that is all I knew. And so it wasn’t until I know she didn’t get invited to different places. But, I didn’t really understand that until I was a little bit older. Having seen, I had always seen one of my best friend her dad was a pastor; they were Apostolic, like Pentecostal.

Annie Downs
Yeah.

Latasha Morrison
So you saw women. So I always saw, my aunt is a minister. So I’ve always seen it. So it wasn’t until really stepping into a predominantly white church, you know, that I actually was like, “Oh, this is the thing. Oh!” And so even as you’re explaining to me, and you’re like, you know, “I was afraid of what people were gonna think. The fear.” And that’s a lot of things that stifle us is the fear of what other people are gonna think. And, you know, but like, this is part of God’s calling for your life. I look at that, even with this work that, you know, I do. I care about what people think. And so, for me to even be doing something like this, where you walk in a room and people may not like you. Or, you know, the hard. You know, I was like, “I’m so glad to talk about That Sounds Fun.” Because, like, you know, you have to deal with the heavy things. But I want to say congratulations, well done good and faithful servant. And I’m not like doing your eulogy or anything. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Yeah, we got about 60 more of these before we do a eulogy. Thank you. That means a lot, Tasha.

Latasha Morrison
And those who are listening, if you have a problem with it, you know, keep it to yourself. We don’t want to hear it. Your lane is your lane.

Annie Downs
Yeah, the day we put it on Instagram like 500 people unfollowed me. And that is so okay. If you love Jesus, we are going to get to heaven and we are going to be friends. And if what my church and my denomination believes is right for women doesn’t match what you believe, go serve God the way you want to.

Latasha Morrison
Yes.

Annie Downs
Like that is fine. Like, that doesn’t hurt my feelings.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. Tell them with a smile. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Yeah. Like, listen, this is this was a journey for me too. I hope I’m now part of your journey of whether, of what you, the way you want to serve God. And so it is, you know.

Latasha Morrison
It’s going to be an encouragement to women.

Annie Downs
To me it’s not a friendship maker or breaker, but if it is for other people, I totally get it. I totally get it.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, it’s gonna encourage women that may be on the fence about it or have that same desire and that call. I mean, I see it in people. You know? And so I’m glad to see you able to walk it out, and that you’re in a community of people that is lifting that up in you. And so.

Annie Downs
And isn’t it funny because we have one side of our group of friends who are like, “What?!” and like passing out over it.  And then the other side is like, “We’ve had women leaders since always. So, congratulations question mark.” I mean, it’s just so interesting and like you’re saying the way you grew up in it, and the way I grew up in it totally affects how we get where we are. Which is true for all the work you do. But man, it makes me grateful for my friends who I’m running alongside with, like you who go like, “Yeah, this is how we do it. Now you’re a baby at this. So get ready because we got some teenagers and some grandmas and some adults over here that you can actually learn from because you’ve done this for six weeks.” (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. And that was important for me, even as I was looking for seminaries, like to make sure that they believe in this type of path. You know? And I mean, because this is another thing, I don’t talk about it a lot. But this is another, like, it’s probably up there when I start talking about biblical justice, like, you know, it’s up there. And I just, it’s just hard. Like, I can’t focus on all the lines in the sand that we draw. You know? And I just know, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus doesn’t love you any less because you’re ordained. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Nor more. He doesn’t love me more.

Latasha Morrison
Exactly. So I’m so happy for you. And I mean, I know this comes at a time too. You guys have had just a lot happening in Nashville. You know, I mean, like, Oh, my goodness. And I actually, you know what, I was talking to someone, someone said, “If you can live somewhere else, where would you live?” And it…wait a minute. Wait a minute. You’re like “Huh?!” Uh oh wait a minute! I would say I love the DMV area, like Maryland, Washington. And then that second place would probably would be Nashville.

Annie Downs
You know Lindsey Nobles and I would lose our minds if you were here.

Latasha Morrison
(laughter) I know. I was like, “Nashville is so cute. It has a vibe. It has a little vibe.” Yeah.

Annie Downs
You know, I grew up in Atlanta. And so a lot of what I’m experiencing in Nashville now, I’ve been here for almost 15 years.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
And it is. There’s a lot of Atlanta that is reminding me of what’s happening in Nashville now. You know, we’ve got NFL, we’ve got…we kind of mix Nashville, I’m sorry, we kind of miss it mix Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. Where like, everything’s like 20 minutes away, 15 minutes away. And there’s great local stuff. But also we have traffic and also we have an airport and also we have the NFL. (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. Yes. So that’s the difference. That’s the difference about I like living in a city that has like football and basketball, like professional ones. Like college ones are great. But I like the professional, like the option of it.

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s right. You want to know that the Hawks are there.

Latasha Morrison
And you know you’re going to get the good concerts and stuff like that.

Annie Downs
That’s right. That’s right. I hear you.

Latasha Morrison
Good. So I know, there’s just been a lot of, you know, heavy things happening there. You know, and I know that really touched you with the incident that happened at Covenant School. And I know like you have your mini BFFs. You know? And you can tell me, maybe tell our audience what your mini BFFs are, and then just talk about, like how this like, impacted you personally what just happened at the Covenant School that we’re still praying for.

Annie Downs
Thank you. So not being married yet, and not having my own kids yet. I did not realize this was gonna happen until about 10 years ago, when my best friends started having kids. And I was like, “Oh, you’re just birthing new friends for me.” I had no idea. I had no idea that was gonna happen.

Latasha Morrison
Oh that’s so cute!

Annie Downs
It has been the most fun. And so that’s what I call my mini BFFs are like the tiny version of my friends. Where I’m like, “Well, I love your parents. So of course, I’m gonna like you, you’re great.” And so I’m very lucky and so blessed. I mean, I don’t use this lightly, I’m so blessed to have a bunch of kids in my life, that are my friends kids. And a lot of those kids go to Covenant School. And I’m friends with parents who lost children that day. And it I mean, Tasha, when I tell you I’ve never felt anything like when that first text came through, that there was a shooter at the school. I mean, we were all like, “Wait. Do you mean Covenant?” Also, I don’t know if you’ve seen this in the news. But Covenant Church and Covenant School are on the top of a hill hidden away. Like, it’s not easy to find. Which we know of the shooter, she did not have to work hard to find it because she was a student there before. But it just isn’t, it made no sense. It made no sense. And so I mean, that day, you know, you just don’t think you’re ever going to know anyone in a school shooting.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
You just think it is so far away. And you think, and you hate it. I mean, you hate it every time. And you mourn with them, but you mourn with them for 35 minutes because your life moves on and you have dinner plans, but man, I can’t believe it. I mean, you know, I think back to Sandy Hook and my TV was on all day. Right? And you’re just sick. You’re absolutely sick about it.

Latasha Morrison
Uvalde. Parkland.

Annie Downs
Yeah, and Uvalde. My gosh. I mean, just you watch all those and you, and then it is like kids that you know. And you have about a 90 minute window where you’re not sure who’s alive and who isn’t. And I just, I mean Tasha when I tell you, I mean my hand is on my chest because that’s where my anxiety is. I mean I just have never, I’ve never felt anything like that. I hope I don’t ever feel…we’re doing all we can to make sure we never feel anything like that again in the state of Tennessee. But it is a long trauma tragedy.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
I mean, the news has moved on besides clickbait and things, certain things coming out and what the police are doing and all that. But it is our every day, Tash. I mean, it is my actual every day that we are…families are still getting meals taken to them. Because yeah, kids are all still…Tasha across the school, kids are all still sleeping in one bedroom with their parents. I mean, there are, the fear.

Latasha Morrison
The trauma. Trauma is, you hold it in your body, it’s generational. The impact, like we don’t even understand the impact of these things like years and decades from now, what our children are experiencing. And it’s like, they deserve better, they deserve better.

Annie Downs
It’s just, it’s just unbelievable that there are people in the world who would walk into a school where the children are children and intend harm. And it is also unbelievable, that it is as easy as it is.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
And so I thank God for the teachers and the leadership at Covenant. The police have said, this is a textbook, how you handle it. And we lost six really important people. And I thank God that it wasn’t more. I’m so sorry. I mean, I’m, you know, the devastation of these families who lost their children…

Latasha Morrison
I can’t even imagine. I couldn’t, I couldn’t even imagine.

Annie Downs
The wild thing, Tasha, is this will never not be part of my life now. This will forever, I mean, this we will never move on from, I mean, we will, yeah, but we will never have Hallie Scruggs back. We’ll never have those children back.

Latasha Morrison
The world will move on, but when it impacts you. Your personal life. Your friendships. Yeah, yeah. Like I was just even thinking about the shooting that was recent in Texas, like, two sisters, two sisters an entire family. You know, we’re gonna, like the world will move on. But that family is going to feel that for the rest of their lives, like, you know, I think about even with like, you know…Bernice King, I know her. You know, gun violence impacted her family like, twice. You know? Her grandmother and her father. And it’s like, you know, he was a public figure to us, but to her, that was her dad. And she lost him at five years old. And that’s something she carries and fights for even today. Like you never move on from that. Anybody you know, that has lost a loved one. Like, that’s something that you carry with you. You know? You can, you can heal, but that’s something that is forever in your, your memory, you know. And so, um, you know, I saw that and I thought about, you know, your mini BFFs. One of the things that she does is she reads to them. She has several books, children’s books about them. But I love how you have embraced that. Because, like, for me, and I wasn’t even planning to talk to you about this, but like, as a single woman with no kids also, like my friends’ kids, and when you said that, I never knew that was why you call it the mini BFFs.

Annie Downs
Yeah, yeah.

Latasha Morrison
But like my friends’ kids, I’m Auntie Tasha to like all my, either auntie or godmother. I’m like everybody’s godmother. That’s a big thing in the African American community. You know? But like, you know, even my goddaughter sent me like, a Mother’s Day text with pictures of us in it. And, you know, and, like her wedding.

Annie Downs
I can’t wait until they’re old enough to have phones.

Latasha Morrison
I know! At her wedding, like she wanted me, I walked down behind her mom. And I was like “What!?” So I got to experience like all of these things that I never thought I would experience. And I didn’t really know how much that meant to me until that moment. And I was like, wow, I didn’t know that I needed this. You know?

Annie Downs
Oh yeah. I mean, families loving singles and letting singles be part of the village of raising. So even like on Mother’s Day, four of my mom friends that, what we do in our community is that the dads keep the kids for the afternoon of Mother’s Day, and all the moms go hang out together.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
And they invite me along.

Latasha Morrison
Oh, I love it.

Annie Downs
Right? Because they’re like, “Come on.” I’m like, “Well, yeah, my schedule is clear. So yeah, I’m very available to you.” But, you know, it is, I hope when I get married, and if I have kids that I will remember how much it matters to single people. It happened last night at a soccer match, one of my really good friends was there and her husband is going on the road. And I said, “Well just call us and let us come down and eat dinner with you. Like we’ll come down and help.” And she was like, “I forget that people want to be around my kid.”

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
“Because I’m with them all day and I’m tired and I forget y’all will drive 20 minutes.” I’m like, “We love this. We love this.” Village life is the life for me. And I’m just so thankful for it. And, you know, even in, you know, the morning after the shooting at the Covenant School, I’m over at one of the family’s houses and I’m like, hugging the children. I mean, I’m like, not letting them go. And a friend was over who I know pretty well. I mean, I know his parents really well, but he’s 10. You know? And next thing I know, I kissed him on the head. And I was like, “Oh, Lord, I don’t know him that well.” So I like text his mom and I’m like, “Hey, I love your son. But I was real wrapped up in the ‘I’m thankful that everybody’s here moment’ and I and so..” And she was like, “Annie, you’re allowed to kiss my kids on the head whenever you want to.” (laughter) We don’t need to talk about that.

Latasha Morrison
I love that. I love that. I love, you know, I think you’re such a bright spot. Like I appreciate what you do. I remember in 20, I think it was, yeah, 2021, you invited me to do like you were doing like a tour. You were doing,

Annie Downs
Yeah, Dollywood!

Latasha Morrison
Dollywood. And, I was like, it was like, you know, my father just passed, like all these things that happened. I said, “I would love some fun.” You know? And I remember going there. And I was thinking like, “First of all, nobody in Annie’s audience, my audience, I’m not sure.” And then it was like, “Oh, my God. There were a lot of Be the Bridgers in Annie’s audience.”

Annie Downs
Who was the first one in line to take a picture with you? My mother. Do you remember? My actual mother?

Latasha Morrison
Yes! Your mother.

Annie Downs
She is the president of your fan club. She’s taken the courses. I mean, she is in. Yeah.

Latasha Morrison
I know, I know. That was like, “Wow!” But we had a good time with that.

Annie Downs
It was so fun. I’m so glad you came. I mean, because I love that kind of stuff where we get to go like, we get to yes and the world. So yes, we had a shooting at Covenant School that will affect us forever. And our group of friends cries every day, we’re still crying. And the news doesn’t talk about it. And last night, the fifth and sixth grade did a performance of Aladdin that was beautiful. Right? We yes and this. So yes, in your suffering, I wanted to hug you in you’re suffering and I wanted to put you on rollercoasters in your suffering.

Latasha Morrison
Right, right.

Annie Downs
Give you some moments of laughter too. I think when we, one of the things, one of the reasons I love talking about fun is I get to remind people, what we learned from Inside Out, that movie, is that joy and suffering, joy and sadness actually are brighter together then apart. And so you don’t have to pretend like everything’s fine. And you also don’t have to wallow, as we say.

Latasha Morrison
Right, right.

Annie Downs
But feel your feelings, when the deep sadness is there lay on your couch. I do too. But we can hold both.

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Latasha Morrison
Some people ask me they’re like, “You do this work. How do you radiate so much joy?” And I think it’s the understanding that both can exist. I can lament and have joy. And understanding that I mean, I feel like a part of my joy is my resistance and resilience. To me the strength that comes from God. That’s when God is real when in the midst of my sorrow and pain I can still say God is good. And this is beautiful.

Annie Downs
That’s right. That’s exactly right.

Latasha Morrison
And you are great. And so I think that’s beautiful. And I know you guys did a concert that you hosted. So you put action to your prayers.

Annie Downs
And that was important to me. Because the parents, what we needed to do so that, I was invited by the people who put it together to host it. And I was like, “You want me to try to talk…” And the audience was all Covenant families and Covenant staff and Covenant adjacent. Right? And I was like, “You want me to get up and try to be like me? And be funny?” And then you have these moments, I know you’ve had these. I mean 2020 was one of these for you. I think from my observation. Where you go like, “Oh, maybe God made me for this.” Maybe there are going to be six or seven times in my life when I have a self aware moment in the middle of an activity where I go, “Oh, he built me thinking of this day.” And I felt that that day. I thought, “Man for all the times I’ve you know done a chapel at Covenant School.” I mean, I’ve done a chapel since they have been back up, back gathering. And to gather and let the people hear music. Music’s so healing. You know this, you love it too. Music is so healing. And I’ll tell you also, there’s a lot…don’t mess with mamas.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
What I’ll really say to you is don’t mess with rich white mamas.

Latasha Morrison
I know. That’s like, yes, the white women got to get upset so we can do something about this. Come on now!

Annie Downs
Is that not what happened in 2020? Is that not what happened in 2020?

Latasha Morrison
But we got to make sure you stay upset now. You can’t be on the sidelines now.

Annie Downs
And so what has happened is there’s an activation of moms in Tennessee that has not happened before.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah.

Annie Downs
And they are meeting with legislators. And they are pushing for some changes. And they are going like, “This isn’t okay. And it’s never been okay.” And I’ll tell you one of the beautiful things. I think you’re gonna love this. There was, our friend Carlos, Carlos Whittaker did this massive fundraiser for Covenant, and raised like, half a million dollars or some insane amount of money to help them all get counseling.

Latasha Morrison
For counseling. Yeah.

Annie Downs
Well, once all the money was raised, they realized it was actually significantly more than they needed. And, so they started donating some of that to places like Uvalde, to some other communities that didn’t happen to be in a big city where multiple public people live.

Latasha Morrison
I love that. I love that.

Annie Downs
So I mean, that’s Carlos, right? Like, just yeah, “Let me help here. We got too much. Let me go help there. Let me go help there.”

Latasha Morrison
The moms down there are fighting too.

Annie Downs
That’s right. That’s right.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, that community is really fighting. So, you know, like, pains are never wasted.

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s right, Tasha.

Latasha Morrison
Like, you know, you only can ignore the masses for so long. And so we have to keep pushing, we can’t give up, you know, even when we feel fearful and paralyzed, or, you know, the, I think the enemy will tell you, like you don’t matter or what you’re doing doesn’t matter, you keep pushing.

Annie Downs
That’s right.

Latasha Morrison
Because every step gets us closer. And I think about that even in this work that I do. You know, I think about all the people who did not see, you know, civil rights. Or all the people who did not see freedom. And, you know, but they built that bridge so that I can see it. And so, I think that’s important for everyone. You’re not just doing it for your children, you’re doing it for their children, your children’s children, and their children. You know? And so you may not, I may not reap the benefits of seeing reconciliation. I know I’m not gonna see that in my lifetime, you know, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t do everything in my power to make sure that this baton that we leave behind, this bridge that we build, helps this next generation, this now generation get a little bit closer. And I believe they’re gonna take it over the finish line.

Annie Downs
I mean, it’s what I get to do with being ordained as well. Right? Like the privilege I have of being in a church that ordains me allows me to advocate for people who may not have that privilege. And so I get to tick off my whole life and go “Okay, what areas am I financially privileged? Am I racially privileged? Am I religiously? privileged? Am I privileged in the amount of friendships I have? Okay, so how can I use that to help other people find friendship?” Like, what’s it look like? You’re building the bridge, Tasha, and how can I pied piper them over the bridge? You know, and so that’s what the partnership can look like with people of going like, “Okay, when it comes to gun control or women in leadership or safety in any kind of, you know, like, to what degree am I privileged and how can I use that?”

Latasha Morrison
Right, right.

Annie Downs
And if the honest answer is, “I’m not. I’m in a church that won’t let me.” Then thank God for the people like Tasha who will stand up and teach us how we do it. Right?

Latasha Morrison
So good.

Annie Downs
So, it’s just an honest assessment of where you are privileged. Be honest. I mean, it isn’t bad. God has allowed me to be in a church where I can be ordained, to be in a community that got mad enough about what happened in their school that they’re activated. That is a privilege that God has handed to me, I better do something.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
I better do something. I better get in some meetings. I better make some phone calls. I better do some new standing up. Because that’s the invitation. It’s not a force thing. It’s an invitation. Right? Am I saying that right?

Latasha Morrison
No, you’re good. You’re good. This is good. I’m just, I have so many thoughts right now, because I’m thinking even back to, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Jackie Reese. She’s out of Texas.

Annie Downs
Without an E on the end? Rees? That’s maybe not. No, I’ll have to look her up though.

Latasha Morrison
But yeah, she’s, actually Lindsay and I, I think Lindsey is the one that told me about it. We took Bible studies in Austin, Texas with her. And she focuses in on, you know, really empowering women in leadership through the church. And so she was some of the ones, because once this started coming up in the spaces that I was in, I was just like, “I don’t see the problem.” (laughter) But I wanted to be able to theologically like, be able to, but I’m just like, “God ain’t saying that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
But yes, I was just thinking about that. And I’ve been following now. We have a diverse community of listeners. And we share many different faiths. So we have people from different theological backgrounds, we, you know, Be the Bridge is not an institution, you know, we’re faith based, but we have people in the Catholic Church, the, you know, Episcopalian Church, and all, nondenominational, all of it. And so, I want to start, you’ve been doing something since January. And you actually have been doing it for years. Because I’ve heard you talk about reading through the gospels like on your podcasts and different things like that. And I wanted to talk a little bit, you know, why is it, why do you feel like reading through the gospel is a significant thing that follows of Jesus should do? Because I just really believe that followers of Jesus, I just felt like Christians not reading their Bible.

Annie Downs
That’s it. I mean, that’s it.

Latasha Morrison
We can not be reading the same text, because those outcomes that I’m seeing and the things that people are saying, I like, that don’t even sound like Jesus. And I think the gospels, like you, you know, when you read the gospels, you know what Jesus sounds like, what Jesus says, how Jesus moves, like, you just know. And so why do you think that’s important for followers of Jesus?

Annie Downs
Yeah, I mean, it makes me think of food competitions that you watch where everybody’s cooking the same thing. And you’re like, how did y’all have the same ingredients and end up with such different things?

Latasha Morrison
Yes, yes!

Annie Downs
And it’s because they didn’t read the recipe.

Latasha Morrison
Ohh that’s so good.

Annie Downs
And so, you know, for me, Tasha, it started in 2019 for me. At the end of the year, our pastor at Cross Point, Pastor Kevin said, “You need a plan and a place. If you really want to read the Bible, you need a plan and a place.” And I thought, “Okay, well, I can read the Bible in a year, but by February 21st, I’m done. I’m off. I’m off enough days, and I’ll never get back. Well, I’ll try again next year.”

Latasha Morrison
Right. (laughter)

Annie Downs
So I was like, I need something shorter than a year, something that I can be successful at. So I thought, what if I, what if the first month of 2020, what if I read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? And there’s 89 chapters, so if you read three a day, you get them done in 30 days.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And so I thought, Okay, I’ll try that. And I finished. And I was like, “Well, that was cool.” And again, because of my privilege of speaking English, we have the Bible in multiple versions. And so and because I had multiple versions in my house, which a lot of people don’t, I switched to a different version. I thought, “I’ll do it again in February.” And I was like, “Well, this is awesome.” And so for the whole year, I looped through the gospels for every 30 days. And by mid spring, I started talking about it on social media, and people started jumping in with me. And they were like, “Hey, this is kind of changing my life to read the same thing over and over again.” And, so that’s why the practice is what it is, is like, jump in, and so for 2020, 2021, and 2022 we just printed out plans. And we’re like, “You can go to my website and download a plan and you can read.” And then this year, I was like, as last year was ending, we thought, “We should do something with this, like we should do something auditorily for people who are podcasting people.” So I was like, “Okay, I can read it.” And when I tell you in January, we said, “This is going to be so much work. We’re releasing a podcast every day for a year.” And it’s three chapters. So it’s like 20 minutes, I have to read three to four days, a couple times a week. So it’s an hour and a half of reading. I was like, “By May, this is going to be really hard.” And I’m here to tell you, it is very hard. We are in May, and it is very hard. And we still love it. I still see something new almost every time, Tasha. And so, I mean, when when Jesus says, and Jesus, the stuff he says is not easy.

Latasha Morrison
It’s not.

Annie Downs
That’s one of our biggest takeaways, the three of us. So I read it. My engineer Craig sits in here and my COO Ashley sits in here in the studio with me. And they, they check every word. So I’m also like, “Then they went to Bethany.” And they’re like, “Then she went to Bethany.” I’m like, “Then, she went to Bethany.” (laughter) I mean, like, because we’re trying so hard to honor the translations that we’re reading and to make sure we’re honoring God in it. But, man, I’ll be like, my goal is a perfect chapter. I’ve never done a perfect chapter. I’m reading June right now. So I’m on my sixth read of out loud reading the gospels. And I have yet to do a perfect chapter. I think today might be my day, Tasha. Yeah, today, I’m feeling good about it. But it’s just been really special. Because when Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Like that, what if we just loved God and loved our neighbors? Then all your questions about diversity based on race or sexuality or Protestant or Catholic, or whether they love God or not, Jesus didn’t say love your Christian neighbors as yourself.

Latasha Morrison
Sho didn’t.

Annie Downs
And so it just changes everything when you have to read that every day, or when you see it or hear it every day. And you go, “Man, you know what people aren’t gonna like, you know what Christians aren’t gonna like? When I love everybody.”

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, yeah.

Annie Downs
People aren’t gonna like when we love everybody, Tasha. And I’m not doing it perfectly. Where is truth in love? And where is justice? And you know, I don’t know. But I know that we are, I know that what Jesus is saying to us. So I love the rest of the Bible. It’s all 100% true. I have found that if you do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John a few times over and over again, whether you want to read it, or you want to listen to me read it on the Let’s Read the Gospels Podcast. If you do it over and over again, it changes you. You hear us say it a lot: You don’t have to be in the gospels every day to be changed. But every day you’re in the gospels will change you.

Latasha Morrison
Yes.

Annie Downs
And that’s true. It’s just true.

Latasha Morrison
And I’ve been following along. I like, you read it, she reads. And then at the end, she says a little prayer. And that’s it.

Annie Downs
That’s it.

Latasha Morrison
And my best friend, Lynette says, she said, “It’s something, I don’t know,” she said, Because I sent it to her. She’s doing it also. And she said, “But it’s so powerful about having a woman read the scriptures.” That’s what she told me.

Annie Downs
So many people have said that, Tasha. Because all the audio books of the Bible are dudes. And I had never realized that but people have said that so much.

Latasha Morrison
I didn’t pay attention to it until she said it. I was like, “Oh they are!”

Annie Downs
I didn’t know that either. And it’s really funny too, because other people who don’t have my personality type, like I’m a, you know, this, I identify as an Enneagram Seven. I am an extrovert. And, there are people who are like, “Hey, my personality is so different from you. I’ve never heard Jesus say it like that.” And I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t realize he was saying it like that. I’m just reading.” You know? And so that’s the other cool thing is, people have heard, people read it in their own language and their own personality.

Latasha Morrison
Right.

Annie Downs
And so to hear another friend of theirs, a female friend of theirs read it in her personality, just asks the question, “How did Jesus say that? Did he say like Annie’s saying it? Or did he say it like I hear it in my head?”

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. And I think you know, what I just, it just dawned on me too. Like, it may be good like to even listen to the Bible in a different language.

Annie Downs
Oh, interesting.

Latasha Morrison
To really respect that culture. And just to see that God is moving and operating and saving, people are thriving in other cultures. And it kind of points it from our Western eyes. You know, I just had that, you know, I think that was Jesus just speaking just now. (laughter)

Annie Downs
I think so too. Because here’s what we know. Like, let’s talk about speaking in tongues. I mean, we can like go. There, the idea we have that we’re gonna get to heaven and everybody’s gonna speak English is laughable.

Latasha Morrison
It is laughable.

Annie Downs
English is a late developed language. This is not an ancient language you and I are speaking. And so it just is, it’s the same as like, I say to my friends a lot when we’re talking about stuff like this. We’re like, “Man, we’re gonna get to heaven. We’re gonna be like he’s here? She’s here?” And then someone else is gonna look at me and be like, “She’s here?” Right? I mean, because Jesus is real clear, like, he’s the way, the truth, and the life, and he is our direct connection to eternal life. He’s it. And there are a lot of people I don’t agree with who love Jesus. And there are a lot of people who don’t speak English, who love Jesus. And we’re gonna get up there and be like, or over there, wherever it is, we’re gonna be like, “I don’t speak English anymore.” (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
Like, you know, like, and I think that’s the thing. You know, Reading the Bible Through our Western Eyes, there’s a book. It’s Reading the Bible through our Western Eyes. And then there’s one, Reading the Bible through our Individualistic Eyes. And that was a book in my hermeneutics class in seminary that we read. And so that is really something because it really changes your perspective in how we think and that the Bible was written in Eastern culture, not in Western culture. And so those things mean something. But one of the things I wanted to say, so much of Jesus’s ministry was spent with people who were marginalized and outcast.

Annie Downs
Oh, yes.

Latasha Morrison
How has reading the gospels again and again illuminated God’s heart for justice in your life?

Annie Downs
Oh, gosh, Tasha. I mean that the thing that stresses me out when I read it is I’m like, you know who I’d be? The Pharisee. Because that’s the thing. Jesus goes, and he’s with people…I love the part where Jesus says that you saw John the Baptist, and you thought he was this and you saw me and thought I was a drunkard. Because of who I’m hanging out with. And, and so for me, what has interested me is the more Jesus focused on the people who are marginalized, the more the church people gathered around that. And they were not supportive. They killed him over it. Right? And so we get this, I get this opportunity to go like, “Okay, if Jesus is over there, and I’m drawn over there, how can I be a part not be against?” You know? So how do I be a part of what he’s doing? And I mean, he’s not playing when he says, “I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me.”

Latasha Morrison
Yes, yes.

Annie Downs
“I was in prison, and you did not help me. I needed clothes.” Every time I read it, Tasha, I’m like, “Am I helping anybody? Have I fed anybody? Have I given anybody water?”

Latasha Morrison
I think I just want to post that scripture everyday. Matthew 25. I just want to post it. Just marinate on this. Because, like, I mean, just even reading the red letters like, I think it changes you. It shapes you. That’s why I know people are not reading it.

Annie Downs
They may be reading it with their eyes. But they are unwilling to change their heart around the words they have seen. And so, but man I, it just stresses me out. Not in like a real stress. But like, you’re like, “Man, I do not want to spend my life on something. And then Jesus go, like, ‘I didn’t know you. Because you didn’t serve. You thought they were people who didn’t matter. And so you didn’t serve them. And, I told you to serve them.'” You know? And so it is having eyes for that and ears for that. And I mean, I cannot tell you how many times we’ll finish recording today. And we’ll all three sit here and be like, “It is hard to follow Jesus. It is hard to follow Jesus. And it is not culturally easy.”

Latasha Morrison
It’s costly. It’s uncomfortable. And you know, and I always when I teach, I ask this question, I was like, “When was Jesus comfortable?”

Annie Downs
Listen. Like that poor guy. John the Baptist gets killed, his first cousin, who he has been pals with straight through gets killed. He hears that. He pulls away by himself to grieve. And he cannot get there before there’s a crowd. And it says, “And he had compassion on him and healed them.” I’m like that poor man did not get to grieve alone like he needed to before the people needed him again. And he went, “Okay. Okay.” And we don’t know. Did he have an hour? Did he at least get 30 minutes? I don’t know. But I mean, he suffered long before his crucifixion. Thank God for Jesus. Right? How about this? Listen, this’ll just blow your mind. Let’s do a little theology. You’re the seminary student. I’m just getting started in that world.

Latasha Morrison
(laughter) I’m on break.

Annie Downs
But how about when, yeah, that’s right. (laughter) In Genesis, God created, the Spirit hovered over the water. Where was Jesus? Because it says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. And in Him all things were made.” What?

Latasha Morrison
He was right there.

Annie Downs
He was right there. But was he Jesus in the body that he had? I don’t know. This is what I love about the Bible. We’ll never get to the bottom. We’ll never get to the bottom. This is like Aladdin, you know in Aladdin when the jaws open of that and he has to go in and there’s all that gold. I”m like, that is us with the Bible. When when we open that thing and we go in, there is more gold than we will ever be able to spend. And so then you’re like where was Jesus? What was Jesus doing in creation?

Latasha Morrison
God is spirit. You know? God is flesh. You know? All of that. Like, it’s like the Trinity. That’s when you really, it’s like blowing your mind.

Annie Downs
Here’s another one. Our friends are gonna be like, “Annie stop it.” But Jesus says, in Matthew, we just read this yesterday. And we were all like, “What?!” He says, “The 12 of you will sit with me and judge the 12 tribes.” Is that including Judas? Because he said it when Judas was sitting in the room?

Latasha Morrison
He said, “The 12 of you will sit with me and judge the 12 tribes.” Whoa.

Annie Downs
But then Judas, then Jesus says, “It had been better if the one who betrays me wasn’t born.” And Judas kills himself.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. Yeah. So maybe, maybe in that moment. (laughter) That’s some stuff. That’s some stuff that leaves you like…let me look that up… (laughter)

Annie Downs
Let me hear that in Spanish. I need that in another language. That’s the fun part. Right? Then what I’m gonna do tomorrow morning, in my quiet time, is get my phone out and open Blue Letter Bible and read what that said in Greek. I mean I’m not going to really read Greek.

Latasha Morrison
Exactly.

Annie Downs
And go like, “Wait, in English Jesus just said, all 12 of them will judge and sit by him.” But we know, Judas. How about that?

Latasha Morrison
Oh, my gosh.

Annie Downs
And so I said, when we’re sitting here talking about and Ashley, who’s my COO says, “If that is true, that is the most extraordinary grace.” And I thought, man, that’s that’s what Jesus would do. I don’t know. We don’t know.

Latasha Morrison
But he knew, he even knew about the betrayal. Like he knew. And he still washed his feet.

Annie Downs
Can you imagine having someone on your team that you knew was gonna be the death, the actual death of you? And Jesus knew Judas was stealing before anybody else knew. Do you watch The Chosen, Tasha?

Latasha Morrison
He washed his feet. I keep saying feet because I’m like feet, and they wore sandals. So just imagine.

Annie Downs
And at that point, Judas already had the money in his pocket. And you’re like, “Man, Jesus. There ain’t nobody like you. There ain’t nobody like you. I will give you my life because you did it. Because if I was Judas, you would have done the same for me. And every time I’ve been Judas, you’ve done the same for me. And I wish I wasn’t so much like Peter, but I’ve got my Judas moments too. Right? I want to be Nathaniel who’s just like, “I’m in!” Oh, I’m, so Peter it is shameful. I’m always like, “Y’all, we gotta be more sympathetic to Peter.” They’re like, “What about Paul?” I’m like, “No, he’s bossy. He’s bossy. Y’all go read the letters. I’m sticking in the gospels.”

Latasha Morrison
I need to see like, who I identify the most with.

Annie Downs  

Listen, because that’s the question. When we get to heaven, who are you going to schedule coffee with first? Because I’m like, “Y’all can all hang out with Paul. I’ll catch him in the back half of eternity. Y’all go hang out with Paul. I’m looking for Peter.” And I’m looking for Phoebe.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah. Okay.

Annie Downs
Who read the book of Romans, the letter to the Romans. I want to meet Phoebe. Who do you want to meet? After Jesus of course.

Latasha Morrison
Probably, let’s see. Probably Luke.

Annie Downs
Oh that’s a great answer.

Latasha Morrison
And then…

Annie Downs
Such a faithful researcher. Right? So faithful.

Latasha Morrison
And then if I go into the Old Testament, you know, Deborah. But then this always stands out to me, Jael like the woman who drove that pin. I’m like, I want to meet that woman. Like, she took a tent peg. You know how big a tent peg?

Annie Downs
Like, straight through.

Latasha Morrison
I’m like, who is she? (laughter)

Annie Downs
That’s right. We need to meet her early so we keep her on our good side. She’s an early reservation. I’d like to have with her. Yeah,

Latasha Morrison
I always say, I tell people, I say, “Some of you gonna get to heaven, and you’re gonna see Jesus and you’re gonna be like, ‘Uh oh.'” I always say that. Because we talk about this diverse, really, like really countering that image of, you know, like, white Jesus. You know what I’m saying? Like, Eastern culture. So I do that to kind of like, challenge people in our thinking process. And I know I’ve had to challenge myself in that thinking process.

Annie Downs
Have you ever Googled what they think David looked like?

Latasha Morrison
No, but I would want to know.

Annie Downs
So there, because he’s described as ready, there’s, and because his…Oh, I’m gonna get this wrong. One of his parents came.

Latasha Morrison
Oh I would want to meet him too.

Annie Downs
Yeah, for real. One of his parents came from closer to Africa. So when you Google what he looks like he’s light skinned Black man with with like red hair. I mean, they don’t know.

Latasha Morrison
Yeah, but that’s why I was like, I think we’re gonna be like, so that’s why I tell people you get it right on this side. Get it right on this side.

Annie Downs
Get as unsurprised as much as you can on what’s coming.

Latasha Morrison
Exactly. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Figure out as much here so you’re less surprised. Because animals, we’re gonna be shocked about the animals. There’s so much we’re gonna be shocked about that we don’t know. But the diversity of heaven. We can be unsurprised about that.

Latasha Morrison
Yes, exactly. Right, right.

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, you need to Google David, because it’s really cool.

Latasha Morrison
That’s the first thing I’m gonna do when we get off this. (laughter) I got to see that. I got to see that. But okay, so I know, the last question, and then we’re gonna, I have this final question for you. What, you know, when we talk about the cultural climate that’s happening right now, you know, how do you feel like I know, for me reading through the gospels has helped. Because I understand what Jesus is saying, what he’s doing, and I know that this what I’m seeing is a counterfeit. You know, how do you feel like this can really give hope to the current climate?

Annie Downs
Well, you know, when people that work at a bank start, when they sit them all down and teach them about counterfeit money, they don’t show them fake money, they make them practice counting with real money. Because the more you feel the real money, the more you’re able to tell what isn’t true, and what isn’t real. And so for me, the more I plug into what is true, the more the…so I went to a concert a couple of weeks ago, and it’s people, it was fun. People are loving it. It’s a very fun concert. And I had a real like, something isn’t right in this. And, nothing against the artist. And I mean, I’m not gonna even do any of that. But because I spent my life in the gospels, I actually can sniff out when something feels sideways faster than I could four years ago. And it may have been me off that night. It may have been someone I was sitting near. It may have been something that the guys sang. But something made me go, this isn’t exactly, I don’t…I guess it brought a question to me, Tasha, where I went, when I’m at shows like this, and I’m participating and I’m singing along, do I realize what I’m doing? Am I paying attention what I’m doing culturally and spiritually? And I think, so. That’s how I know, that’s how I’m practicing paying attention to counterfeit culture, is I’m spending a ton of time in true culture by staying in the Scriptures. And I’m paying attention when something feels off. Instead of going, “Oh, it’s fine. Don’t be dumb. You  just have a headache. Or let it go. Everybody loves it. You’re being weird.” No, that’s what someone would say at a bank. They got $100 bill that they thought it felt funny. And everybody was like, “It’s fine. It’s fine. And then they test it. And it’s not real.” So we have to trust ourselves, too. So stay in Scripture and trust yourself when something feels sideways.

Latasha Morrison
Look, and you can give me a real tea after we hang up.

Annie Downs
(laughter) With pleasure.

Latasha Morrison
And my last question for you, Annie, as we close, like, what is something that’s bringing you hope in this moment? What is something that’s bringing you hope? I know what you’re lamenting because typically, that’s a question, but I know we already talked about what you’re lamenting right now. But what is bringing you hope?

Annie Downs
What is bringing me hope? We’re doing this thing, Tasha, in the month of…I don’t know when the show comes out. Does it come out soon?

Latasha Morrison
I have no idea. (laughter)

Annie Downs
It doesn’t matter. It’s not like it’s gonna ruin anything. I didn’t know if it was already happening.

Latasha Morrison
In July. I think it’s in July.

Annie Downs
Okay, great. Perfect. So in the month of June on That Sounds Fun, we did a whole month on dating on the podcast, because the climate around dating in Christianity is really sour. It’s really sour. And so here’s what’s giving me hope, Tasha, is the other day I got online. And we just want to teach singles how to pray and to pray with hope.

Latasha Morrison
Okay.

Annie Downs
And so I got online, I said, “Hey, listen, if you’re single, can I have your email address? I’m not selling anything. I just want to tell you something.”

Latasha Morrison
I saw it. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Yeah, I just want to tell you something. And we thought 500 people as a team would sign up in a week and we were really excited about that. And we are three days in at 11,000 email addresses, Tasha. There are a 11,000 Christian men and women who are not married yet that are saying, “Can someone help us? Can someone give something…”

Latasha Morrison
And then you need to take that list and create a date…nah I’m just joking. (laughter)

Annie Downs
Yeah, that’s I think that’s what people thought we were doing, a dating app. I think I’m actually better for you, I’m doing better for you. I am getting you engaged with the God of the universe. Because when the enemy is allowed to steal our hope, when he can steal hope, that is like an open door to ruin other parts of your life. And so I’m coming around them and I’m going, “Hey, listen, me too. Me too. I’m in the same boat you’re in and we are going to hope. We are going to be people who have hope.” And Romans five says, you know, like, it’s your sufferings that produce perseverance and perseverance builds your character and your character gives you hope. It’s not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s not free. But I have a lot of hope right now, because I’m watching people who needed hope look for it. And I go, okay, good. Good. Let’s get them. Put yourself on that list.

Latasha Morrison
Maybe I need to be on that list. I think my pride got in my way when I saw it.

Annie Downs
Yeah, we’re not gonna make you do anything weird. It is literally. And I’ll tell you, we’re tracing Psalm 1:3. Psalm 1:3, is, I’m gonna say she because we’re both females. “She is a tree planted by a river, whose fruit mature in season, whose leaves never whither, and everything she touches prospers.”

Latasha Morrison
Amen. Amen.

Annie Downs
And I like, we’re praying that, we’re having 11,000 men and women pray those four things down on their own lives. And we’re going to see what God can do and how much ground the enemy can lose this summer because people are praying that they’d be planted by a river, that their fruit would bloom in season, that the leaves would never wither, and that everything they would touch would prosper.

Latasha Morrison
That’s a prayer.

Annie Downs
Let’s go. Right? Let’s go.

Latasha Morrison
That’s why she ordained y’all! (laughter)

Annie Downs
That’s right. No, no.

Latasha Morrison
I love it. Oh, my goodness.

Annie Downs
I love you. Thank you for the work you do Tasha. I’m such a better person, because you’re my friend.

Latasha Morrison
Oh, my goodness.

Annie Downs
Thank you for your grace and your kindness and your teaching. And I’m just really thankful for you.

Latasha Morrison
Do you remember when I sat across, we had that when you interviewed me about my book? And you were talking, and I was like, “Wait a minute. What?” We had to stop the podcast.

Annie Downs
You were like, “You had 1619 Project?” (laughter)

Latasha Morrison
(laughter) I was like, “Wait a minute. You know about that book? What happened?”

Annie Downs
You’ve been teaching me ever since. I’m grateful.

Latasha Morrison
I’m so grateful for you. You keep up the beautiful work and we’ll be in contact. I want to get on that list now.

Annie Downs

Yeah, come on and pray with us.

Latasha Morrison
I love it. Okay, you guys. That is the Reverend Annie Downs. (laughter) I had to say it.

Annie Downs
I’ll take it. I’ll take it.

Latasha Morrison
I love it. Love it.

Narrator
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge Podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community, go to bethebridge.com. Again, that’s bethebridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the senior producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.