For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body - whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free-and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13
I have heard directly and indirectly that some members of our church are very concerned that others in this church are attending BLM (Black Lives Matter) vigils and that information is regarding the vigils is included in the church’s communications. I hear two reasons for these concerns.
First, some concerned members think that we should stay out of any controversial policies or issues, perhaps to reduce conflict within our church. In a time where we see and hear conflict daily across our country, I understand the desire for peaceful and friendly fellowship at church. I believe our church celebrates diversity in thought, background, and beliefs as well as that our church is calling us into the work of racial reconciliation. So, I think we need a “both-and” where we both come together in services as a caring community, and we seek to be with our differences gently, while at the same time, standing firm with justice.
Second, some concerned members think that the support for the BLM vigils indicates that we want to defund the police, are anti-police, and/or we advocate for special treatment of Blacks over whites. A few clarifications:
- The MORR group does not have a platform or a set of advocacy objectives. We have diversity within our group about what we can and should do. Attending BLM vigils is one advocacy activity some of us support.
- The BLM vigils are organized by the West County Action Network (WE CAN - https://www.facebook.com/wecanstl) which is not affiliated with the national BLM organization. This organization has been active since 2014 in the St. Louis area and has good relationships with several police organizations with on-going dialog about safer policing practices.
- At the vigils, someone will occasionally shout from a car that “All Lives Matter”. The response from the long-term vigil members is “We agree which is why we are trying to make Black lives matter”. This aligns with their vision to create an equitable, supportive community.
I have attended vigils and find them both disheartening and uplifting. While a very small number of drivers react negatively, some react with extreme anger at those holding signs and waving. At the same time, the vigils are uplifting because the majority respond favorably with smiles, honks, and waves. By holding a sign, I believe I’m showing support for all those striving for criminal justice reform, improved education and healthcare, and the many other needs of our neighbors to live full and happy lives.
If you have these concerns or others, I’d like to have a conversation. Not so I can convince you to change your mind, but so I can understand your concerns. Please contact me- Amy Conard (firstname.lastname@example.org) or reach out to Tony Corey or Lance Kramer who both attend the BLM vigils when possible but also offer up conversation as well.