Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ Responds to Racial Tension
Our nation is in a particularly vulnerable place as we battle the COVID-19 pandemic and grieve over the loss of family, friends, and our ability to worship in our sanctuaries, synagogues, and mosques. We are fragile and are now faced with additional examples of violence and brutality against the minority citizens of this country. These crimes against our fellow citizens have been going on for as long as America has existed, and now are laid bare through the use of technology and sophisticated communication.
In the long history of Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, our country has faced many crises, from war, economic panics, recessions, depressions and the many struggles for civil and political rights. As we enter the current conflicts brought about in our society as a result of the history of systemic racism present in our institutions, including our own beloved faith community, we stand at a crossroads which demands action and response.
And so we are called to respond.
First and foremost, we confess our complicity and participation in the abhorrent sin of racism that has plagued our society for 401 years. We make the claim as people of faith that every person on earth is a beloved Child of God and is to be welcomed among us and to be treated with dignity and respect. We are responding from our faith perspective as followers of the teachings of Jesus Christ, teachings that make it imperative that we speak humbly, but boldly, against injustice to God’s children. One method is to proclaim that:
Black Lives Matter.
We have heard this phrase many times over the past several years. The point of this sentiment is not to deny the value of life to all, but to emphasize that black lives, those that have suffered violence, oppression, and discrimination, matter as much as anyone else’s, a fact that has been denied throughout the history of our country. The time has come to formally acknowledge this fact.
We acknowledge that the phrase itself can be a lightning rod for much conflict, with many saying that it puts black lives ahead of others, that “All Lives Matter,” and “Blue Lives Matter.” However, the context of history does not support these views. It is not a competition between lives; it is an affirmation of the importance and value of our African American siblings, all part of the community of God’s children. And it is important to us as followers of Jesus Christ to put forth this statement clearly and emphatically, as we pray that justice and equality for all may be achieved, and the Kingdom of God will become a reality for all.
The leadership of Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, has committed to placing two “Black Lives Matter” banners at the front of our church building, visible to all who pass by. In addition, we are working to create community programming that will offer educational opportunities as well as possibilities for engaging in dialogue on racial justice and systemic racism for members of our own community as well as the wider community that we serve.
Programming will be made available to members of the wider community free of charge. And we pray that our community may come together in this challenging work that holds potential for bringing about a just world for all.
Newman UCC is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ and extends this invitation to one and all, living out the example of Jesus’ extravagant welcome.
Newman Congregational Church, United Church of Christ
100 Newman Avenue, Rumford, RI 02916