On a chilly day in February of this year, I was enjoying a delightful time with one of my daughters, replacing the radiator on her hand-me-down, 240,000 mile vehicle. Changing the radiator in the middle of my southwest Baltimore street made for some unexpectedly wonderful encounters. There was our mail carrier who reintroduced himself after he and I had met at a neighborhood party. An older woman, impressed by my daughter’s dirty hands, said to me, “You need to come and get my son off the couch. He won’t do nothing.” There was the neighbor who used to do his own car work and offered to loan tools should we need any, another neighbor who I learned refurbishes motorcycles (“I’ve been riding them since before I had a driver’s license!”) and the random stranger who drew out an 8” knife blade to help us remove a stuck hose. “Don’t worry,” he said somewhat reassuringly, “I won’t stick you.” I was reminded how, in the midst of so many challenges in our public life, most people in most places ..
In light of the recent Supreme Court Decision that prevented the Trump administration from revoking the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) policy due to failure to provide adequate justification, immigration is back on the top of everyone’s mind. Questions of the border particularly the US Southern Border have come into sharper focus. Moreover, as we enter another intense season, it is clear that President Trump will aim to use immigration and the Southern Border as another wedge issue to encourage voters to support his re-election. This paper reflects on the United States’ southern border and ponders its symbology and proposes a re-examination of how Christians should view the border in light of the gospel.
The border has unique symbolism and conjures thoughts of protection, filtration, separation, or insulation from danger. Borders are a critical part of the functional integrity of a country and allow for governments to track commerce, register individuals, and provide a l..
I. His eyes wouldn’t stay shut.
They taped them shut,
and then they’d just pop open again …
Initially, it seemed like small talk on a typical Sunday afternoon. That, at least, is what I imagined when I sat down at a round table with Treshawna Williams, LaChelle Rice, and Phyllis Scott in Reid Chapel, just outside the main sanctuary of the First & Franklin Presbyterian Church, in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. It was a little after 2 p.m. on March 24, 2019. Our church was preparing to host a community-wide concert to raise awareness about the violence in our city. So it was that Treshawna, Phyllis, and LaChelle were there, in Reid Chapel, preparing to speak in a traditionally white church. They were united by a story of loss: each had lost a child to the violence in Baltimore, Treshawna just a few months before.2
If the concert that followed was powerful (and it was), the testimonies of these three women were inexpressibly beautiful and to the same degree painful. Yet wha..
For many white folk, the image of Christ as a white man is normal. Portraits by the famous artist, Warren Sallman, hang in many churches and households instilling the image of the white Jesus in the minds of many church members. When a Google search is conducted to find images of Christ, stock photos and webpages fill the search results with images of a whitewashed Christ that, again, perpetuates how we see the Savior of our world.
Jesus’ depiction as a white man is not only false, but it is a sin. These false artistic depictions perpetuate, intentionally, the oppressive violence and power hungry motives of white supremacy. Here are just 7 Ways White Jesus Perpetuates White Supremacy:
White Jesus whitewashes the Brown Jesus. The whiteness of the falsely created white Jesus erases the Brownness of the actual Christ who dwelt among humanity. The humanity of Christ was lived out as a brown person with a certain culture and a certain time and space. As we believe in the incarnation, we..
The beginnings and journey of Knox Presbyterian Church reveal a church community with a defiant hope and a tenacious faith to overcome all odds to be followers of Jesus Christ.
Knox was started in 1926 as a mission to address the great Black migration from the south to the North. My own family moved from Chester, South Carolina to Baltimore in that migration.
My parents were products of Brainard Institute, a missionary effort started by Presbyterians in South Carolina. They and my grandparents settled in East Baltimore and were some of the first members of the fledgling missional Knox church.
At a time when Black Presbyterian ministers were primarily trained at the two Black Presbyterian seminaries, Johnson C Smith and Lincoln University, the church chose a young man of 26 years by the name of Herman Octavius Graham, relatively new to our shores from Jamaica.
He was chosen to start the effort with little to no resources and there was still much debate then abou..
This is a personal story about what it means to be part of a movement to change the attitudes of a denomination and our nation, particularly on matters of women’s rights and human sexuality. I write to encourage people to consider serving on national committees, and to encourage the church to retain a strong Presbyterian system of social justice committees and the development of carefully prepared reports and policy. I mourn the vocations sacrificed in years of moral and theological clashes, and applaud the words spoken today (June 4, 2020) by the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA: “No longer can we hide behind not being controversial.”
Forty years ago, 1980, I was elected by the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) to serve on the relatively new Council on Women and the Church (COWAC). Fast forward to 2020. I’m saying goodbye to national service after four years as a member of the PCUSA Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (..
Reading poetry is one of the ways some of us nourish our faith, a way we set or reset our inner compass and stay focused on the big picture, on the spiritual journey. I know that is true for me. The time that has passed since the May poetry column has been a season of overwhelming sadness, anger, and a call to action. The systemic racism in this country and our church has never been more apparent. The Langston Hughes poem, “Harlem”, has echoed in my heart the past few weeks. It begins with a question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” It continues, “Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore—And then run?” The poem concludes, “Or does it explode?” Yes, it explodes. We have work to do. Inner work and joining with others for social change.
Wendell Berry begins his “Peace of Wild Things” with the line: “When despair for the world grows in me.” These lines resonate with the first half of 2020. There is much that causes us to feel despair. It is easy to feel overwhel..
Anti-racism work and training is by no means work that needs to be done in silos. But when it comes to dismantling white supremacy and racism, white people and people of color have different work to do. This means that white people need to do the work separate from their siblings of color before any type of reconciliation happens. Here are just 5 reasons why separating into race based affinity groups is important for anti-racist work.
People of color need spaces to grieve, lament, mourn, and share their emotions in community away from white people.
White people tend to take up excess space as well as center conversation around themselves. People of color, gathering together in their own spaces, may find more freedom and trust to do the work they need to do in processing.White people created white supremacy so white people need to do the work to dismantle it.
White supremacy is a white people’s problem and it is going to take white people’s intentional efforts to dismantle white supr..
Minneapolis, in full light of day, George Floyd, an African American man, age 46 was lynched by a police officer of European descent. His execution was transmitted live on Facebook and has led to a global movement fighting against police brutality and ongoing impacts of polices and laws designed to protect and support European descendants.
George Floyd was handcuffed and laid on the street with his head to one side. The police officer, Derek Chauvin, had his knee around his neck and two other officers were holding him by the waist and legs for over eight minutes. George Floyd’s final words were “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe.” The police officers continued to hold him until the ambulance arrived to verify his death. This murder comes amid multiple news reports of other African Americans who were also killed by police in the United States.
SAN JOSE, CA – MAY 29: A protester takes a knee in front of San Jose ..
“Don’t just do something, stand there.” The first thing to do in a crisis or even disaster is not to panic. This is not “fight, flight, or paralysis,” but steadiness, rooted in the inner security of faith. A national or international crisis is something that it helps to have a denomination to address, and an ecumenical movement. More than a disaster, a crisis or multiple crises requires more than sending money. It means aligning with those who seek a solution, and it may mean standing-symbolically and actually—with protesters and whistle-blowers. It means analyzing the obstacles to social change, which usually has a long range dimension.
In the current police accountability crisis, for example, Presbyterians may be helped to know that the General Assembly has endorsed peaceful protest and civil disobedience when necessary, and has called for de-militarizing (though not de-funding) the police. It has also, in the resolution, Honest Patriotism, identified the slow-motion crisis of lies..
“The Surprising, Expanding, Confounding Nature of the Kingdom of God” June 7, 2020; Texts: Luke 13:10-17, 18-21 Have you ever...
I see her waiting for me through the plate glass window that separates us. On her work uniform, her name is written in blue threads that match the kitenge headscarf she’s wearing. I recognize it. It’s the same kitenge she wore on a brutally cold December morning when she walked down the escalator steps at Bluegrass airport, into the arms of the family she had been separated from for nearly eleven years.
I had been there too, just after midnight, waiting to welcome her to America. She smiles at me beyond the door, teeth glinting in the late March air.
“Emmy, no kazi,” she says in Swahili. The only people who ever call me ‘Emmy’ are clients and my mother.
“No job,” she says again, this time in English, and holds up papers she wants me to read. But I don’t read them. I already know what they say. Dawa has lost her job, and she’s come to Kentucky Refugee Ministries to find someone who can help her understand why.
Just an hour before, the manager at the restaurant where she works cal..