This week has been filled with the protests around the country and here in Mount Pleasant. I realized slowly, late last week, how big the protests were getting. By Sunday morning I was planning to change the regular monthly Thursday evening service to focus on racial justice. This was thanks to someone from the congregation suggesting it. On Sunday morning, I learned that there was already a protest planned in Mount Pleasant that afternoon. This was also thanks to someone from the congregation alerting me to it.
I decided to attend that protest, taking the Black Lives Matter banner from where it hangs in my home to the corner of Bluefield Road and Mission. The organizer, a young woman from the UU church in Midland, greeted me. The speaker, a young man from Saginaw, addressed the crowd through a megaphone. I wore my mask and held my banner. I saw several members of our congregation there. Many were also at the larger Mount Pleasant protest the next day, where our social justice leader Norma Bailey spoke about voting rights.
The protest for racial justice, visible on the national news in cities across America, is here in central Michigan as well. For those who are not on the streets protesting, other ways to support racial justice include donating money to organizations, and working for political reform at the local, state, and national levels. Two of our congregants are part of a task force that has been meeting with the local police for the past few years about racial profiling and best practices for equitable policing right here.
At the national level, I am angered by President Trump using force to clear peaceful protestors in order to take a photograph in front of a church holding a Bible. Christian teaching does not support this president’s ideology and actions around race in general and around his response to this crisis in particular. I was moved to take a similar photo of myself in front of our fellowship’s sign. I believe that congregants and leaders of all faiths need to counter this president’s misappropriation of religious imagery with our own affirmation: our faith calls us to speak and act for love and justice. We support peaceful protest. We call for radical reform of government to promote racial justice and eliminate racialized violence. Our UU principles include Justice, equity and compassion in human relations and The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Some of us are protesting on the streets. Some of us are being vocal on social media. And some of us are being reflective. How you are reacting to this crisis is not right or wrong. We each need to be true to ourselves. Doing the internal work of grappling with this crisis is important: we may be feeling anger, sadness, fear, and shame. As a loving community of faith, we need to support one another in this kind of work also. The special Service of Lament and Call to Action Thursday at 7:00 will be more along those lines.
This is a profound moment in American history. The world is watching. The U.S. president is acting boldly and showing where he stands. The people are marching in the streets. Our hearts are breaking with fear, sadness, anger, and shame. May this faith community sustain you and strengthen you and help you cope with this crisis, no matter what your coping looks like.
Spirit of Life and Love, you are the divine power within each of us. We see you as the spirit that animates the protestor on the street. Spirit of life and love, we see you at work in the Black protestor who proclaims that their child doesn’t deserve to be at risk of dying from their own police force. We feel you, spirit of life and love, in our own hearts as we grapple with the news and ache for a better world.
Hear our prayer.
May the protestors be safe. May they speak their truth and show their righteous anger.
May the officers across from the protestors be grounded in their sacred duty to protect and serve the public good. May they see the protestors as their fellow humans.
May all be engaged in this struggle, this dialogue, this messy moment of choice and change. A new world is coming and we are creating it today. May we create the new world in love and community.
May it be so.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
Rev. Drew is on vacation from June 26 toJuly 18. During this time, the contact person (in lieu of Drew) will be Norma Bailey (989.560.3952) through June 30; then Stacey Pattison (989.330.1832) through July 18.
His column is on hiatus June 29-July13
Drew's office hours are suspended until further notice. However, he is reachable at any time via email, phone, or text.
Day off: Monday
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