Centering Marginalized Voices as Spiritual Practice

Image: Jennifer Hosler for Messenger

From Pastor Belita Mitchell and team, Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren:

Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren ‘Black Lives Matter’ Statement

 As followers of Jesus we stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters enduring racial violence and systemic oppression. We denounce anti-black racism resulting in police brutality, mass incarceration, and unjust legal systems that disproportionately harm black and brown people. We denounce the evil “principalities and powers” at work in our world that seek to kill, steal, and destroy people made in the image of God. 

As a congregation we commit to doing justice and peacemaking in the way of Jesus. For the times we as a church have been complacent about the suffering of others, we confess our complicity. By God’s grace we repent and courageously align ourselves with the Spirit’s activity and the Messiah’s reign on earth. And in obedience to God we seek to set things right where every valley is lifted up and every mountain is made low. Jesus teaches us how to struggle against oppression through his example of standing in solidarity with those who were considered ‘the least’ and ‘the last’ in his society. And because Jesus affirmed that poor people’s lives mattered, that Samaritans lives mattered, and the lives of those crucified by Rome mattered, we affirm that black and brown lives matter too, and are precious to God. 

As a congregation we commit to deepening our faithfulness to Jesus through holy listening, through intentional learning, and through discerning congregational public action. As a congregation we commit to creating intentional inter-generational space where the stories of our black and brown brothers and sisters are received with love. In line with God’s upside-down kingdom, we will encourage marginalized stories to be centered while inviting those in the dominant culture to step back and be slow to speak and quick to listen. Specifically, we will make space for this congregational practice immediately after we return to worshiping together in our building.

  • As a congregation we commit to deepening our understanding of the history and present systems of racism in the United States, as well as the complicity of the western church in the legacy of white supremacy. We will study the history, our present society, and the theological implications of racism and its ties to the church. Specifically, our congregation will begin with Jemar Tisby’s “Color of Compromise” video series. We will follow that up with ongoing learning. 
  • We will grow in our understanding of what it means to be an intentionally and actively anti-racist church. Finally, we commit to taking public action because we are called to do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Just as Jesus spent most of his time out in the streets of Galilee serving and living in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable we too seek to take action that makes the Jesus story visible to those who have their backs against the wall.
  • Specifically, we commit to ongoing discernment as a congregation about what public actions, community partnerships, and organizing efforts in our neighborhood we will participate. We know that faith without works is dead and discipleship requires a love willing to respond to the suffering of others. We pray for a prophetic witness that pleases God and participates in seeing justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. 

Harrisburg First Discernment Team & Pastor Belita Mitchell 

(Harrisburg First CoB is located on Hummel St in Harrisburg’s South Allison Hill neighborhood which is comprised of the largest concentration of low-income families between Philadelphia & Pittsburgh.) ~

You can watch Jemar Tisby’s “The Color of Compromise” series too!

 

“When we truly know justice, we will truly know peace.” ❤️

 

 

*Installments of the peace-building series can be found here:

Belita Mitchell

Are You Old Enough to Remember the Idealism?

I’ve heard that a number of you played roles in or watched Godspell as a musical number at your youth groups or summer camps. I never did. But I did see the movie as a child and we had the vinyl album at home, which I’m pretty sure I wore out memorizing the songs.

At the time this movie came out it was considered very hippie and almost heretical, though by today’s standards it may seem pretty tame.

Have you ever really listened to the words, though? Do you get them?

When wilt thou save the people,
Oh, God of Mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns but men!
Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they.
Let them not pass, like weeds, away.
Their heritage a sunless day,
God save the people!
Shall crime bring crime forever,
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Father,
That men shall toil for wrong?
‘NO!’ say thy mountains,
‘NO!’ say thy skies.
Man’s clouded sun shall brightly rise,
And songs be heard instead of sighs.
God save the people!
When wilt thou save the people,
Oh, God of Mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns but men!
God save the people, for thine they are,
Thy children, as thy…

 

❤️

 

Ramadan Mubarak! Have a Blessed Ramadan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (– Attributed to Anne Frank)

Stanton’s 10 Stages of Genocide and how the US stacks up:

 

Reflect on your own values, and see what you may do to “start to improve the world.” ❤

Anti-Semitism Still Active

 

In 2019 in the United States of America, the Jewish community still experiences life-threatening anti-Semitism:

We don’t want more people to have to die singing.

Antisemitism is real and being stirred.

If the Jewish and Muslim communities can support one another, then others can–and must–also learn to de-escalate.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, of Chabad of Poway, who was injured in the shooting today, wrote this post in March:

Yisroel

If you would like to help in a concrete way, donations are being collected:

Be mindful of neighbors and coworkers who may be very affected by these events and check in with them if you can.

Be safe, and help others feel safe, too. ❤

Happy Passover! Chag Pesach Sameach!

To all those observing Passover this evening:

 

(What is Passover?)

 

Notre Dame Fire: Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Header photo via Westcoaster

Millions around the world grieve a significant piece of European and world history:

As civilizations have experienced throughout the history of humanity:

 

When there is a loss grieved by so many at once, we may feel very connected to others or very isolated. Both are normal. You may have never been to the Cathedral, but it’s part of our communal knowledge and experience.

It can also feel strange and even dissociative to witness historic events–especially painful ones–as though we are observing history passing instead of being “inside” it, as usual. A significant historic event can bring up issues of mortality, death, and existential issues.

Make sure to take care of your physical body and to connect with others in a positive, everyday way as best you can when catastrophic events occur. Eat a meal with someone, stop for a drink, talk on the phone, stop at someone’s house to say “hi,” hold someone’s hand, go to a service, hug your children.

Targeted Violence in New Zealand Shatters the Peace for All

 

canterbury-mosque-in-christchurch-new-zealand-04

We are saddened and outraged to hear of the deaths of 49 Muslim worshippers at the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. We extend our condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and also our Muslim neighbors locally.

A reminder to all that it is important to avoid sharing harmful imagery and materials that primarily publicize terrorist acts and terrorists. This includes the video livestreamed by the shooter, but also stills from the video. One reason is to avoid giving terrorists the publicity they crave, which can also encourage terrorist acts by others.

Another reason is to minimize traumatizing people by making exposure to images of actual violence and killings practically unavoidable as they go about their everyday lives. Traumatic material can severely affect not only those in the specific target group of the violence, but many others as well.

As the above Twitter user has pointed out, instead of giving terrorists free publicity, find ways to help, locally and internationally. Some ideas from others include: showing support and solidarity online or in person, contacting local Muslim organizations to offer help, or donating to specific victim aid.

For Muslims anywhere,

Be mindful of neighbors and coworkers who may be very affected by these events and check in with them if you can.

Be safe, and help others feel safe, too. ❤