Dear Siblings in Christ:
You may have heard in the news or other places about this weekend’s protests in Washington, DC in support of those who were arrested during the January 6th protests and insurrection. As part of these reports, you might have also learned that there are suggestions on extremist websites for state capitals as well as “Jewish centers and Liberal churches” to be targeted. Over the last couple of days, some religious bodies have started to share this information.
These are reports to pay attention to and be aware of. At the same time, I’ve heard nothing from local law enforcement suggesting that any churches or ministry settings in our conference are being specifically targeted in relation to this particular protest.
It’s important to keep in mind that, although we’ve definitely had churches both vandalized and threatened with violence, I’m not aware of one of those actions being launched because of as specific a threat as this one. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen – these are days when some additional caution is merited and assessing your specific risk is always wise – but it hasn’t happened yet. If nothing else, this serves as a helpful reminder to revisit your local church’s safety plan.
What this also continues to point out is the reality of the sectarian divide infecting our country. A couple of organizations I have tremendous respect for are including this conversation in upcoming online events. The UCC Office of Communication is an organization I’m proud to serve on the board of. Annually, they hold the Parker Lectures to lift up the voices of those involved in media justice work, generally, as well as celebrate those who use media to promote justice. This year’s lecture on October 19th will continue that tradition.
The Othering and Belonging Institute hold an annual conference that, as the name of the organization suggests, researches and shares ways that the divisions we have between us might be bridged. This year’s conference (October 18th-19th) focuses particularly on the risks we might need to take to find a way forward together. I believe there is an important role for the Church in this sort of work.
In the face of violence and threats of violence, it’s tempting to lose hope or become rooted in fear. One of the things this week’s text from Mark calls us to consider is the role of humility in serving God and God’s people. These days call us to be bold in our humility; recognizing that our role in peace and justice work is not rooted in our need to “do something” or be seen “doing something” but our faith in One that loves us all and calls us to share that love with the world.
With hope, Mike
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