I arrived at the University of Delaware yesterday for the annual meeting of the Central Atlantic Conference. Joining me are John Pontician, Darryl Hilliard, and the moderator of the congregation, Jack Rickly. Yesterday's festivities included registration, socializing, meetings to introduce UCC leadership and an overview of the weekend's work. At 6pm, we had an amazing dinner followed by the opening meeting approving the rules, agenda, and particular introductions.
I was very much impressed by the address of the Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, the President of North American Churches of the World Council of Churches. She is also a UCC minister and is serving as an interim pastor for a church in New Orleans, that is struggling to rebuild its church amid fallen debris and a saddened congregation. Her address to us was incredible and her witness to justice and morality was inspiring.
The main points of her address were these:
1. Charity is not justice. You can give money to help those who suffer, but the giving of said resources isn't justice. Justice is addressing the reasons for poverty, housing problems, insurance inequalities and over feelings of disenfranchisement.
2. We must claim our moral ground. When faced with crisis and injustice, we must "claim our moral ground." She explained in each point in our history when faced with confrontation and inequality, the Christian response to injustice is to claim our moral ground. Poverty is a moral issue, racism is a moral issue, and homophobia is a moral issue.
3. We've got to do that Spirit work. Being people of faith means that we bring our faith to crisis and engage the crisis in our prayer time, meditation, Bible study, and learning to be grateful to God and each other. Only by doing so can we go about doing our reclaiming work. Only by the work of the Spirit can we be 'the light' and 'build that beloved community' out of crisis.
At the end of her address, I wasn't the only one she inspired. The room erupted in a standing ovation because we knew that we had been met with God's Spirit and we knew she was right.
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