God’s grace, peace, and justice to you, in the places you inhabit, and within God’s Creation.
As we enter our sixth month continuing to be church in a physically distanced way, with our building serving essential functions, we are mindful of the many differing situations in which people are experiencing this period.
For some, there is little change because they were already mostly at home.
For essential workers, they have had great changes of procedure and pressure in their work situation. For others, isolation and stress have increased, or income and employment have decreased. Once again, what we have seen reported is that people of color and the poor are being disproportionately, perversely affected.
All the more reason people would be in the streets trying to disrupt a status quo of inequality during these times. How are you experiencing that reality of protests in the Seattle area? For many, it is mediated through media coverage, a news story disconnected from one’s neighborhood or immediate relationships. For others, it is personal and immediate in action and emotion
and implication. The arrival of federal agents to Seattle recently increased the sense of tension. Talking about race and racial injustice can also increase tension in predominantly white communities and congregations. Without realizing it, those of us who are used to calm and order may find ourselves wishing that protests could happen in a less disruptive or destructive way.
Yet, that preference for calm and order reminds us of Rev. Dr. King’s profound prophetic statement in the Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He wrote directly to well-meaning, moderate white churches and their leaders who criticized him for disturbing the peace of their city. Said King, “I am not afraid of the word tension. I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”
Our predominantly white congregation would do well to re-read King’s letter and take heed, lest we drift into the same complacency and resistance to a constructive tension that moves us towards the changes we say we want, the change that the Holy Spirit seeks out. While property damage and violence from the few (often instigated by anti-Black Lives Matter individuals) is indeed undesired and unfortunate, but violence against human beings is the real evil. The litany of deaths of unarmed people of color at the hands of police and other authorities, and the continued disproportionate burdens for people of color are of profoundly greater concern. So, we, as ministers of the Gospel, support the nonviolent protesters and their attempts to generate a creativetension that interrupts this system and brings energy to the process of change.
Perhaps our faithful response to the pandemics of injustice might have the same urgency of the protesters and the public health crisis we now endure.
Here are ways you can support change:
- If you want to participate in person, here is a calendar of local Black Lives Matter protests. There are also nonviolent trainings to help educate those who are protesting on responding to police violence.
- The Northwest Community Bail Fund is seeking donations and volunteers. This UCUCC partner organization is doing important work helping local protestors who have been arrested while exercising their right to protest.
- Black Lives Matter Seattle King County is a important resource in our community, and UCUCC member Livio De La Cruz is on their Board of Directors. Check out their “Protestor Safety Guide” and support their comprehensive set of policy demands.
- The Seattle Covid-19 Mutual Aid Fund has been a big organizer in the BLM protests, working to provide medical supplies to the volunteer protest medics. They also have volunteer opportunities.
- The Pink Umbrella Medical Collective is collecting water, snacks, masks, hand sanitizer, medical supplies, and gas cards to support local protestors (here’s the story of how the pink umbrella became a symbol of Seattle protests).
- Join the mailing list of King County Equity Now, a coalition of accountable, black-led, community-based organizations fighting to achieve equity. Seek out and listen to local Black community leaders.
- If you have a car, the larger protests have use for volunteer drivers who can transport injured protestors to the hospital.
- Write to your local city council members, the mayor, and other local and state government officials, supporting Black Lives Matter demands for reforms in policing, education, community resource, justice systems and for an acknowledgment that racism is a public health crisis. Here’s how to contact them.
- Engage your mind. Continue to learn and explore the issues that fuel these protests. Have conversations with your friends, neighbors, and family members. Share what you’ve learned. Build networks of support and accountability.
- Support Black-owned businesses. Where you spend your money matters. Build anti-racist patterns into your everyday life.
- Finally, let’s stand together for the common good. This Sunday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm we invite you to bring a Black Lives Matter sign and let’s gather on the corners of 15th and 45th for a BLM Vigil. We ask that all participants wear masks, and we will stand six feet apart.
As a Racial Justice Church, we invite our whole community to take action and live into God’s call for justice, in whatever ways you can.