June 4, 2020
Grace and peace to you, dear ones. This has been a hard week. As we enter a third month of this world-wide pandemic and the grief that has accompanied it in terms of lost lives, lost jobs, and lost connections with one another, we have also witnessed deaths, trauma and violence perpetrated against black and brown bodies, and against the bodies of those who speak out against unjust systems of white supremacy and anti-black racism. This is an exhausting time for all of us, and for our black and brown siblings it is heaped on top of the everyday exhaustion of navigating the challenges of life in a racist society.
This week, in response to all we are witnessing and experiencing, our church released “A Statement and A Call,” in solidarity with those protesting the murder of George Floyd. We have included it here for you.
In the face of all of this, we know it is hard to hold on to hope. But as the youth of our church reminded us last week, hope is a fundamental gift of faith. Kate Davies, our Seabeck speaker from a few years back, suggested for us some Habits of Hope. The two that seem particularly relevant now are to acknowledge what is true, even if the truth is hard to face, and to take action. In this “slowed down” season, each of us can choose to go deeper into the truth of the ways systemic racism shows up in each of our lives, and then to do something.
In this time of crisis upon crisis, the choices we make right now are critical. Those choices will shape the ways we emerge from this time. So as you read our congregation’s statement, choose to hear God’s call. Choose to go deeper in your understanding of systemic and personal racism. Choose to use this time to build your own capacity to see and name and work to dismantle racism. Wherever you are, choose to speak out and to reach out. Choose generosity in your approach to others: generosity of spirit, of understanding, and if possible, generosity of financial resources as well. And if you are in need of support and care, choose to ask for help.
We are here for you.
Blessings to you all,
UNIVERSITY CONGREGATIONAL UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
4515 16th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98105
A Statement and a Call
In solidarity with those protesting the murder of George Floyd;
we call for the dismantling of systemic racism in our country
Last year our congregation adopted a resolution calling for us to be a Racial Justice Church. In that resolution we acknowledge that there are many ways in which we, as a congregation, take part in the systemic racism that exists in our society and our church. In addition, we declare that as people of faith and followers of Jesus, we are called “to work in ways both in and outside the church to change those systems and ourselves.”
In these last months the depth of systemic racism and its cost in human lives have been on full display. As a result of a long history of oppression and economic injustice, the impact of this global pandemic has been felt disproportionately in communities of color. And in these last months, the deadly pandemic of racism has also claimed other victims. We add the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd to the unbearably long list of those who have been killed because we have allowed systemic racism and white supremacy to continue in this country.
We recognize that silence in the face of such injustice is complicity. We stand with people of color in our congregations and in our communities who are threatened and exhausted by ongoing injustice. We stand with those who are placing their bodies on the front lines of protest in order to confront and to change this country.
Therefore, as people of faith, we proclaim that we stand with those who are speaking out against racism and white supremacy culture.
We have witnessed elected officials of our city, our state, and our nation call for a response of domination toward those who are crying out for justice.
Therefore, we call on the elected officials to take action: disavowing violent retribution and partnering with protesters to enact meaningful change.
We have witnessed police use pepper spray, rubber bullets, and other escalation responses against non-violent protestors, including journalists, bystanders, and our clergy colleagues.
Therefore, we call for a de-escalation of police response, and a commitment from policing groups to disavow acts of provocation and violence, and engage in police reform.
We have witnessed an over-anxious concern for property that diverts attention from humans who are suffering from systemic racism and the lives that have been lost because of it.
Therefore, we call for a continued focus of attention and a devotion of needed resources to dismantle the deadly racism that has gripped us all for far too long.
Our faith calls us to the urgent work of justice, as God’s hands and feet in the world. We bear witness with our siblings in Christ who are Black, Indigenous, Immigrants, and People of Color to the suffering and death they experience at the hands of police, in prisons, at our border, and disproportionately from coronavirus. These interconnected injustices come from systemic racism.
Therefore, we will not be silent, and we commit ourselves anew to this ongoing work.
On behalf of University Congregational United Church of Christ,
Rev. Amy Roon, Minister of Worship and Christian Education
Rev. Todd Smiedendorf, Minister of Vision and Stewardship
Terry Moore, Moderator
Ed Coleman, Assistant Moderator