One week ago today, hundreds of us filled St. Mark United Methodist Church to honor the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and denounce systems of racial injustice. We featured a panel of noted experts, who offered us analysis and action steps for addressing racism Together we lamented racism’s destructive effects on our lives by naming seven manifestations of racism, and collectively answered a call to action for us, the beloved community, to dismantle racism.
We recognize that this new year holds tremendous challenges and opportunities. Our shared leadership on racial justice is needed now more than ever locally, nationally, and globally! Martin Luther King Action Assembly Panelist Dr. Soong-Chan Rah proclaimed, “We must have an alternative imagination. This is where the church comes in.” Panelist Dr. Velda Love affirmed this by exclaiming, "Change the narrative!" So, as we gathered, we created a counter narrative, rooted in love, justice and equity for all of God’s people. Panelist Juan Perea reminded us that our narrative must be inclusive because, “Jim Crow had a first cousin: Juan Crow.”
In response to the structural racism deeply embedded in our society, we made a commitment to our 2016-17 Platform for Renewal. We will advocate for FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) bills in Springfield to restore opportunities, seek real police accountability, and work to reduce violence. Also, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx gave us a charge, “As your state's attorney, I have the responsibility to seek justice at all times. You have to hold me accountable.” We will!
Fifty years ago King wrote his book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? That question enveloped our day together and demands an answer from us during this season. We called for community instead of chaos. Our closing preachers invited us to action. Rev. Ann Rosewall proclaimed, “God is offended when we stop talking, showing up for action or go our own way.” Rev. Liz Muñoz declared, “We will run the race together from the Westside to the Southside with a great cloud of witnesses.” And Rev. Yehiel Curry commissioned us to “Stay at the table and run this race together!”
While large scale events like the Martin Luther King Assembly and Women’s March are powerful moments of unity and hope, creating systemic change requires daily action. The work to dismantle racism will take commitment and perseverance. There are three additional things you can do next to live the counter narrative:
- Sign up now to commit to this work with Community Renewal Society and receive additional resources in the future on how to dismantle racism.
- Invite your church to become a member congregation of Community Renewal Society if it’s not one already.
- Commit to a monthly gift in support of the work of Community Renewal Society.
Below you will find materials from the assembly that you can share with your congregations, friends, and family as we work together to eradicate the forces of racism.
2017 Martin Luther King Faith in Action Assembly
- Download the program>
- View photos in our Facebook album>
- Track the event in Twitter Storify>
- Learn more about Dismantling Racism: Where Do We Go From Here?
Download the liturgy for Lamenting Racial Injustice >
(note: text with scriptures coming soon)
Learn more about CRS' 2016-17 Platform for Renewal>
Attend an event sponsored by the UCC Illinois Conference, Revolutionary Conversations: A Gathering of the Prophets With Bishop John Selders>