As we gather once again towards our full strength as a congregation, I have been reflecting on the state of our world and our beloved congregation. By all outward appearances it would seem that we are teetering on the edge of the apocalypse. Daily news reports seem to be sending us back to the dark ages in civil rights. Climate change is very real as evidenced by the deluge Houston suffers from and our leaders seem preoccupied with rating s over the needs of the people they rep-present.
However, there is more to our world than what we see on television. Many communities, most I would hazard to say, are standing up for love over hate. When our Black Lives Matter sign was vandalized several weeks ago, the response from the larger community was overwhelmingly supportive and positive. I heard immediately from Foti Koskinas, the Westport Chief of Police and Jim Marpe, the First Selectman, expressing their outrage at the loss of our sign, and, more importantly, their complete support for what the Black Lives Matter movement stands for. This was a marked change from just a year ago when we first put the sign up; the Chief was supportive of our right to free speech but had some misgivings about the message. In fact, over the days that followed the vandalism, I heard from dozens of supporters and organizations standing with us in solidarity. We received half a dozen contributions towards the new sign.
Of course, the heightened sense of outrage at the reemergence of the so called Alt Right movement has galvanized communities to not permit hate to find a home among us. And there are still those who misunderstand what Black Lives Matter means, inserting an implied modifier after the phrase “more than other lives”. My response has been consistent, of course all lives matter but Black Lives, Brown Lives, and all those lives of those marginalized by our society don’t matter in reality as much as white lives. It’s not an either/or proposition but an invitation. That invitation is at the heart of our church: That Lives Matter regardless of their color and or their gender identity or their class. This is why we take the stands we do.
We have a wonderful year unfolding before us. Our new Youth Program Director, Shahan Islam has plans in place for a renewed mission for our middle and high schoolers. Mary Collins is focusing on our younger kids including a new Childrens Chapel Service once a month. We are starting a mens spirituality group, “A Better Man”, our Leadership Development Team is hard at work with a new program, and we will see changes in our membership process to name a few.
I am also pleased to welcome Julio Torres, our new Intern Minister for this church year. Julio graduated from Union Theological Seminary last spring and brings his considerable experience and passion for social justice and liberation theology to his ministry here. You will hear more from him and about him in the weeks ahead.
We are the church where all lives really do matter, including yours. Come and join us as we gather in hope and service once again.
With Grace and Grit, Rev. John