Dear Members and Friends of the Ark and Dove Community,
The Image of our Capitol building being stormed by domestic terrorists and militias is seared into our memories. It has been a very difficult week, and we have needed prayer. We had about fifty people attend our quickly assembled prayer service on Zoom this week. And this violence comes in the middle of a pandemic.
The truth must be spoken. The President is a white supremacist supported by hoards of white supremacist organizations and individuals. Our nation has not yet been able to shake lose of our white supremacist roots. In this church, however, and in our denomination we are trying. We teach our children at Ark and Dove that only God is supreme, that everyone is a child of God, and no one has the right to treat anyone else like they don’t matter. At the heart of this teaching is the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and our understanding that God chooses to exercise God’s omnipotence and sovereignty, with grace, through love. This is a central tenant in the Reformed or Presbyterian tradition. Terrorists and despots thrive on creating an atmosphere of fear. When people fear, you can twist them into hating. Even so, hate is not the opposite of love, fear is the opposite of love. The Bible implores us hundreds of times not to give in to fear: fear not; be not afraid; do not fear.
When we pray, when we participate in a church community, when we worship, we exercise our faith and we mitigate and take control of our fears. This is the beauty of a congregation, this is the beauty of Ark and Dove. We support one another, and we stand up for equity and love. During this time of pandemic, and this time of political upheaval, I have witnessed countless acts of kindness at Ark and Dove--acts of love toward one another, acts of charity for those in need in our community. I am grateful for you all, our congregation, for we have found strength in our bonds. One of our hymns is entitled, 'Bless Be the Tie that Binds.' Verse one: Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love, the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
Our Mission Ministry and our Session are this very day working on a statement that we can offer in the face of these attacks upon humanity and democracy. Since white supremacy or racism is at the heart of these attacks, what can we do? We can continue our antiracism work as a congregation, and we can, as members, educate ourselves about how to break out of a culture and a way of thinking that is rooted in white supremacy. It’s not good enough to simply be a good person; we are called by God to be anti-racists, actively engaged in discovering how we have been held captive by an unjust and racist culture. Can you read one book this year about racism? Can you participate in an anti-racism class or workshop? Can you risk admitting (if you are White) that, since you grew up in this culture, you are often not able to discern the daily violence that is heaped upon Black and Brown people? Please take at least one more step forward this year.
Here are some books people in our church are reading:
- How to Be and Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
- Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
- Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
- White too Long by Robert P. Long
- America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Waking Up White by Debbie Irving
- White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
John 13:34, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
The peace of Christ casts out fear,