August 13, 2017: “e-racism”

Posted on : Aug 10th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Racism, like sexism, just doesn’t seem to want to give up.  Just when we think it is starting to die out, it comes back to life like a raging forest fire.

The Charlottesville City Council in Virginia voted to remove prominent Confederate monuments from public parks.  Now the city has become a hotspot for white nationalist and supremacist rallies. In fact, a big white nationalist / supremacist rally is planned in Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12.  UCC clergy and laity are gathering in support of racial justice and to oppose the message of the white nationalists and white supremacists.

UCC clergy answering the call to oppose Alt-Right rally in Virginia.

Hoping to gather 1,000 clergy and people of faith in Charlottesville, Va., a group of anti-racism organizers joined by a national officer of the United Church of Christ will stand against racial hatred opposite a white supremacist rally in the city on Aug. 12.

The pastoral presence is a loving response to a “Unite the Right” rally for members of what has been called the Alt-Right, or Alternative Right, a group of far-right conservatives that favor white nationalism. Though the event is local, organizers are raising awareness that white supremacy is a national issue — one that progressive people of faith can confront.

“The Charlottesville Clergy Call (#CvilleClergyCall) is seeking to make visible the liberating love of God and to walk in the action of that love here in the world,” said the Rev. Tracey Howe Wispelwey, who is minister of congregational and community engagement for the UCC. “As people start to see and understand and join, we begin, together, to transform the story we are all living in, which is critical to overcoming white supremacy and all the ways it is institutionalized in our world, systems and history.”

“So, this radical bodily presence of the #CvilleClergyCall is responding to an acute pastoral need of people being crushed in the violence of white supremacy, not just made visible by the Unite the Right rally, but in its institutionalization of the state,” she added. “It is also the spiritual and bodily confrontation of evil.”

The Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, and Cornel West, an author, political activist and social critic, will both be present in Charlottesville and will speak Friday, Aug. 11, during an interfaith prayer service at St. Paul’s Memorial Church.

A pair of UCC organizers from Charlottesville, who have been engaged in anti-racism work across the city for years, are heading up the #CvilleClergyCall. The Rev. Seth Wispelwey is the directing minister of Restoration Village Arts, and Brittany Caine-Conley (a member in discernment) is lead organizer of Congregate Charlottesville, a group of local faith leaders.

“We are hoping to galvanize the local community (and national as well) for people of faith to begin, and to continue, to counteract white supremacy,” Caine-Conley said. “We think this weekend is a great point for people to enter in, or continue, this long and deep work for justice… We want folks to spend the whole weekend with us. We will be present, we will be pastoral, and we will confront and counteract white supremacy. We are asking faith folks to show up and change the narrative, and express that God’s love is for everyone, particularly those who are marginalized and oppressed.

“The UCC envisions a just world for all and is calling individuals and communities to realize that through the action of love in very specific ways,” Howe Wispelwey said. “So, wherever you see injustice in this country, you also find the presence of the UCC.

“As people of faith, we are troubled by nationalistic and white supremacist narratives and actions,” said the Rev. Amber Neuroth, pastor of Hope UCC. “We believe that these narratives are antithetical to the gospel, that they misconstrue American values and that they cause great harm to society. One of the ways we live out our faith is to stand against hate. We will be in Charlottesville standing for love, equality and diversity.”

This Sunday, as we continue our “Be the Church” series, we will focus on the call to Reject Racism in our personal lives, our country and our world.  Why is it that racism is so profoundly difficult to e-race and why are we called to reject it?   More on Sunday.




~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Galatians 3: 23-28

The Message – a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible

Paul teaches about our oneness in Christ.

Until the time when we were mature enough to respond freely in faith to the living God, we were carefully surrounded and protected by the Mosaic law. The law was like those Greek tutors, with which you are familiar, who escort children to school and protect them from danger or distraction, making sure the children will really get to the place they set out for.

But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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