Opportunities to Respond
Just over three years ago our congregation entered into a covenant partnership with the First Baptist Church on New St. to “be a witness to the body of Christ through our developing relationship and through recognizing our shared history.” This covenant has led us into a rhythm of joint gatherings at Easter and Thanksgiving, as well as a deep-dive into conversations of race, racial violence, and the church just two falls ago. It’s led to friendships across our two congregations and has expanded our awareness and engagement with current issues of racial injustice in our community and larger culture.
It’s also changed our conversation internally at the church. Over these last three years we’ve grown more accustomed to talking about race, racism, and racial injustice as a church in ways we perhaps had not before. When significant events happen culturally regarding race or racial violence, we expect to lift them up, recognizing they have something to do with us. Our relationship with New St., fostered by our partnership with the New Baptist Covenant, has expanded our understanding of what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ.
This fall brings two opportunities for us to deepen our relationship with our brothers and sisters at New St., engage our partners at the New Baptist Covenant, and continue in this work of racial justice.
The first is the New Baptist Covenant Summit in Atlanta. Beginning in the afternoon of Monday, October 15 and continuing through lunch on Wednesday, October 17, this annual gathering of NBC will offer a variety of workshops on racial justice, as well as feature sermons and other lectures and reflections by some truly exciting speakers. I’m most looking forward to hearing from Ruby Sales, a theologian and civil rights activist I first heard in an interview on the Krista Tippett podcast, On Being (look it up!). Even if you’re not able to attend the entire event, consider attending the worship service at 7:30pm on Tuesday. See the link on the opposite page to register.
Later that same week in October we will take the next big step in our relationship with New St. by embarking on a joint “pilgrimage” to Montgomery, AL, to experience the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Opening earlier this year, this is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of racial violence. By all accounts this memorial is haunting, painful, and transformational in the vein of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
We will travel and experience this memorial together in the hope that it will both educate our group in our nation's history of racial violence and inspire us to continue to dig into the harder parts of our own histories. See the announcement on the opposite page and our church website for more information.
As we say so often, church is not a place where we come to escape the world around us, but a people committed to helping each other live more faithfully within it. Even if you’re unable to attend these particular events, I hope you’ll engage these difficult but vital conversations in your own way this fall and beyond as we continue this journey together.