The events that occurred in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend have been seared into our collective minds. Images: Torch wielding Klansmen, unhooded, surrounding a church threatened chanting vile, racist hatred; fully armed militiamen there to “protect” those gathered for what they hoped would become a full blow race riot; and the blur of a grey sedan smashing into those gathered just to claim their right to exist, murdering one and injuring multiple others. These are images that once seen cannot be unseen. They haunt our nightmares and daydreams. We watch our children - wondering, hoping, praying that they will never need to seared with such images.
It is with these images fresh in our collective minds that we, the ministers of the churches who worship at the building known as Emerson Avenue Baptist Church, name that the racist, white supremacist, hate filled and fueled actions of this past weekend (and to be honest the centuries prior) to be sinful and evil and against everything we proclaim as members of the Body of Christ.
The four congregations that worship in this building reflect the diverse beauty of God’s creation. A primarily Euro-American and African-American congregation works side by side with with a primarily African-American congregation who works side by side with a Latinx/Spanish speaking congregation who works side by side with a congregation of mostly Pacific Islanders: we come from different faith traditions, races, and language with the collective call to represent the Reign of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. Together, we are committed to fighting the rising tide of racist and anti-immigrant speech coming from all of the places of power. And we are calling for all communities of faith, whatever your tradition or beliefs, to join us in this work.
The road ahead has many twists and turns as we navigate this dark valley in our nation’s history, but we know we do not go alone. When the people of goodwill use their collective power; when the voices of the marginalized are given amplification; when the left out and the left behind know they have a place; when individual is told and believes within them is the Divine Spark of Creation we will have the strength to pull each other out of the darkness and into the light. We will have the collective power to exorcise these demons in our midst. And we will, one day, be able to look our children in their eyes and say ,”Do better than we did. We did the best we could. We know you can finish the work because you know that you are worth saving.”
We, the ministers, know that this world is worth saving. Join us in this struggle.
God’s peace be with you all,
Rev. Jaime Flores, Pastor - Iglesia Bautista Betesda
Rev. Brent Barnett, Pastor - Village of Hope,
Ms. Omunique Owens, Student Minister - Emerson Avenue Baptist Church
Rev. Justin Thornburgh, Pastor - Emerson Avenue Baptist Church