gail song bantum

blog on identity, leadership, discipleship

advent, black lives, and 25 days of changing the narrative – day #18

what a journey it’s been so far! i realize there are many, many wonderful folks who’ve impacted and helped shape my life in various ways over the past 4 decades. 25 days won’t ever do it justice. but today, we’re on day #18 in this journey together and i need to make the turn toward the people who’ve helped shape my life here in seattle. i truly don’t know where i’d be right now if it weren’t for this dear sister and friend.

day 18 – december 17

rev. dr. brenda salter mcneil


i am a praying person. but, truth be told, there’s some things that i pray for more “fervently” than other things, and that’s just #realtalk. one of those things that i’ve always prayed for was a big sister – a sister i could look up to, who could challenge me, love me, laugh with me, encourage me, and keep me in my place! and, a more recent prayer has been for deep friendships here in seattle. moving to seattle was tough for me. i’m an east coaster through and through! as soon as i found out that brenda and her family were moving out to seattle from chicago, i wondered if this was god’s answer to my prayers! sure enough, god heard my cry!

brenda has breathed L-I-F-E into my soul over the past few years. not only is she a presence of joy and encouragement to me but i’ve grown to see a gift in her that brings me to tears sometimes – she is one of very few people in my life who is truly and profoundly for me…all of me. because we live in a culture that often seeks to commodify relationships, i’m finding that it’s harder and harder to sustain deep friendships that feel truthful, with no strings attached. as someone who hasn’t necessarily had the breadth and depth of family experiences growing up, i long for this in my friendships. as someone who’s had to navigate my way through life with only a tight few, i long for friends who look out for me and my best interest and vice versa. brenda is that friend. brenda is that sister. brenda is that family.

as a wife, mother, preacher, professor, mentor, pastor, and a reconciliation pioneer, she has more gifts and talents than i can possibly list here…and many folks know and respect her all over the world for what she does and the gifts she offers. but, at the end of the day, i love and cherish brenda for truly being a big sister to me – like an “at-my-bedside-when-i-die” kind of sister. too much love here and SO grateful for her life!


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