20 Apr Engage, Learn, Disagree & Explore
The death of George Floyd on May 25th last year propelled discussions of race and systemic racism to the forefront of American life. The images of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck were impossible to ignore or escape. As I sit at my desk this morning, the closing arguments in Chauvin’s trail have concluded and the jury has started its deliberations. The city of Minneapolis and, indeed, numerous cities across the country, are tense with anticipation of what the verdict will be. The desire for justice is palpable, as well it should be.
The conversations about race that have been happening around kitchen tables, over Zoom calls, among neighbors, and in communities of faith are all vitally important. Many of these conversations fueled people’s desires to be more informed and better educated. Books, podcasts, TED Talks, editorials, and videos have helped us grapple with a problem that continues to plague and wound us.
Numerous conversations among Calvary members were part of our reckoning with the impact racial injustice has on all of us. This reckoning will be ongoing. In fact, it will never end. But, concrete steps have emerged from our prayerful and thoughtful deliberations. In the fall we wrote a statement on race that is on our website. And this week, the first of five banners has been installed on our lawn. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is widely referred to as the Black National Anthem, and these words are now proudly and prominently displayed from the railing outside our front door. Within the next few days, four additional banners will be staked in the ground around the perimeter of the property. These “feather flags” will carry the messages: “Act Justly”, “Love Mercy”, “Walk Humbly”, and “Give Thanks.”
Words are only words until we act on them. Or, to put it in the language from Sunday’s sermon, they become true only as we embody them. So, in and of themselves, the statement on racism and the banners will not change much of anything. But, that does not mean they are unimportant. They are important first, because they make a public statement to our community about our support for racial justice. And second, they are important because they serve as constant reminders to us that we are to act, talk, work, parent, and live in ways that are racially sensitive and just.
I appreciate each person who has been and will be part of our ongoing discussions about racial issues. Thank you, Session, for your prayerful decisions to ensure that Calvary Presbyterian is counted among those who support and stand for racial justice. A special thanks to Jane Kerr for doing the legwork so that the banners became a reality. I am deeply grateful to this congregation for being a people and a place where uncomfortable or hard conversations are welcomed. We value creating a safe, respectful, loving space for people to talk, engage, learn, disagree, and explore how our faith speaks to our lives. That is a gift that we work diligently to maintain and one that we must never take for granted.
Yours for the Kingdom,