Keeping the Movement

If you want a break, you can’t have it.  If you want to deny that there are broken systems at play that favor some over others, you cannot do that any more.  If you want to catch a breath, you’re reminded that Eric Garner said, “I can’t breathe.”

This continues to be a movement and our churches must not be silent.  I’m collecting sermons, blog posts, reflections and articles from Christian circles as we continue to address systemic racism and social bias that frames our lives.  I hope that these will continue to be nourishment for the journey ahead.

Sermons, Prayers and Worship

Randy Bush, Pastoral Prayer for Ferguson; Saturday, November 30, 2014.

Mark Elsdon, Lament during worship at Pres House; Sunday, December 1, 2014.

Frances Wattman Rosenau, Sermon on Psalm 80; Sunday, December 1, 2014.

Louis Knowles, Rubble; Sunday, December 1, 2014.

Derrick McQueen, Beatitude of Gratitude and Order of Worship; December 1, 2014.

Joann Lee, Still Waiting; December 1, 2014.

Ted Hickman, Duryea Presbyterian Church, December 1, 2014: Covered by NPR HERE and HERE

Larissa Kwong Abazia, From the Wilderness; December 7, 2014.

Sabrina Slater, What Shall I Cry?; December 7, 2014.

Chris Shelton, Longing for Home, December 7, 2014.


Mark Koenig, Always Broken; December 3, 2014.

Rev. Dr. Robert Foltz Morrison (EP of NYC Presbytery) and National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, Message to NYC Presbytery and Council Response.

Cynthia Holder Rich, Ecclesio Series on Incarnation; December 8, 2014.

Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns, Presbyterian Church (USA)


Faith Leaders Stage Die-In at NYC City Hall

A Pastoral Letter from Concerned Faith Leaders in the City of New York to the Mayor and City Council


From a moment to a movement #2

I’ve been unable to do much in the past 24 hours…shh, don’t tell my congregation. Actually, tell them that I can’t do anything more than prayerfully discern a way forward as the violence in Ferguson continues, get angry, stay awake at night trying to figure out what I/we can do to respond, be restless, and get angry again.  Oh, and about a hundred other emotions in between.

If there’s anything that I’ve noticed, it’s that many people from across the denomination are yearning for more. Indeed, more needs to be said. Many want sustenance that can keep us going for the long journey to face the systemic problems that led to the shooting of Michael Brown.  There is a diversity of opinion below, that’s for sure.  I’m not screening what goes up here, I’m sharing what Presbyterians from across the country have shared with me.  Read them.  Disagree.  Agree.  Struggle.  Pass them along.  Use them.

Sermons and Blog Posts:

Kevin Yoho, Neighbors?, July 7, 2014

Mihee Kim Kort: #Black Lives Matter and Vigilance, August 13, 2014

Eugene Cho, Please Don’t Ignore It, August 16, 2014.

Derrick McQueen: In Spite of Who We Are, August 17, 2014

Thia Reggio: Is There No Balm in Gilead, August 17, 2014

Erica Liu: What Romans 16 has to do with Ferguson, August 17, 2014

Andy Kort: From the Heart, August 17, 2014

Alexander Wimberly: When Kindred Live TogetherAugust 17, 2014

Chad Andrew Herring: Ancient Stories – Who Breaks Retribution with LoveAugust 17, 2014

Joy Douglas Strome: Faith Under Fire, August 17, 2014.

Bruce Reyes Chow: One bad apple and the soils of injustice, August 17, 2014

Mihee Kim Kort: Beyond Sunday Morning, August 17, 2014

Erin Counihan: Hear us, Lord Jesus.  We are shouting for You!, August 17, 2014

Anne Epling: When God Changes God’s Mind, August 17, 2014

Carla Pratt Keyes, Stories Worth Telling, August 17, 2014

Andy James, Sitting At the Welcome Table, August 17, 2014

Emily McGinley, Sermon from Urban Village Church in Hyde Park, Chicago, August 17, 2014

Mamie Broadhurst, The Talk, August 17, 2014

Pat Raube, The Empty Ones, August 17, 2014

Michael Kirby, No Seriously, It Really Is Good News, August 17, 2014

Frank Yamada, The World Where Underdogs Win, August 17, 2014

Mike Wilson, Uncomfortably Human, August 17, 2014.

Tom Paine: Who Made the Situation in Ferguson?  We All Did, August 19, 2014

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), August 19, 2014

Landon Whitsitt: A Call to Presbyterians to Stand in Solidarity with the People of Ferguson, August 19, 2014

Bruce Reyes Chow: Talk With Your Kids About Ferguson, August 19, 2014

Jin S. Kim: Facebook status update, August 20, 2014

Jackie Taylor, New Castle Presbytery’s Midweek Musings, August 20, 2014

Frances Wattman Rosenau, Surprise, Surprise, August, 20, 2014

Brian Merritt, From Ferguson: How Many Michael Browns?, August 21, 2014

Bruce Reyes Chow, Guest Blogger Cindy Cushman, Reflections on Ferguson from a White Mother with Black Sons, August 21, 2014

J. Herbert Nelson, A Call for More Than Judicial Remedies to the Killing of African American Boys and Men, August 21, 2014

Mihee Kim Kort, Short Term Mission Trips, Protests, and Sharing the Narrative, August 22, 2014

Mike Wilson, A Visit to Caesar-ville, August 24, 2014

Emily Heitzman, A Confession and a Commission, August 24, 2014.

Patrick David Heery, Fear in the Land of Imagination, August 24, 2014.

Presbyterian Church (USA) news service, Facing Up to Ferguson, August 25, 2014


Mihee Kim Kort and Mark Koenig, A Prayer for #MNOS14, August 12, 2014

Resource from a workshop on diversity at this summer’s General Assembly. Led by Mark Koenig, Sera Chung and Teresa Chavez Sauceda.

Resource from Showing Up For Racial Justice, “Police Brutality Action Kit”

Resource from Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice and Innovation, “Moving the Race Conversation Forward”

The Spirit House Project

Bruce Reyes Chow, Justice Seekers: Prophets, Priests, Pastors, Poets, 2014 National Church Leadership Instititute

Voices from Presbyterian Women’s Antiracism Movement, Manna for the March

The Thoughtful Christian, The Racism Study Pack

Approved by 211th PCUSA General Assembly (1999), Facing Racism: A Vision of the Beloved Community

Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, A Litany for Children Slain by Violence and Traumatized by Those Called to “Serve and Protect,” August 17, 2014

Moly Casteel and Sera Chung, What is the Church to do with #Ferguson, #MichaelBrown and #HandsUpDon’tShoot?: A Resource For Hosting a Conversation, August 25, 2014

Mark Koenig, Confronting Racism in Church and Society, September 4, 2014.

Voices from Across the Church:

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, UMC, Commentary on the Death of Michael Brown, August 8, 2014

African Methodist Episcopal Church, Social Action Commission, August 11, 2014

St. Louis Post, Faith leaders attempt to bring Ferguson together, August 11, 2014

Pat McCaughan, Ferguson, MO: Church Leaders aim to help rebuild community trust, August 15, 2014

Christena Cleveland, The Cross and the Moltov Cocktail, August 17, 2014

United Church of Christ, August 18, 2014

Leslie Callahan, St. Paul’s Baptist Church, A More Expansive Vision, August 20, 2014

Paul Brandeis Rauchenbush, Huffington Post, How These Righteous Religious Leaders in Ferguson Are Giving Us Hope, August 20, 2014

Jeff Chu, We Don’t Need Peace — We Need Unrest, August 20, 2014

Disciples of Christ, Out of a Mountain of Despair — Hope.

Karen House, Responding to Mike Brown

Evangelical Covenant Church, Official Statement on Ferguson

World Council of Churches, Expresses Concern and Support for Justice in Ferguson and Across the USA

Non-Churchy Reflections:

Ebony, Ferguson Forward: ‘Black Lives Matter’ Brings Heartbroken Helping Hands to St. Louis, September 2, 2014

Darnell Moore and Patrisse Cullors, 5 Ways to Never Forget Ferguson, September 4, 2014.

From a moment to a movement

“It can’t just be a moment, it needs to be a movement.”

My English major sensibilities need you to know that this is not a direct quote. I can’t even remember where it came from in the virtual pile of articles about the violence and confrontations in Ferguson, MO this week.  The spirit of these words continue to haunt me as I remember Mike Brown, unarmed and shot to death by local police last weekend.  Everything feels like it is cracking around us. Look at the United States.  Don’t stop there, look around the world. Violence, disease, civil unrest, power, corruption, privilege, hunger, yearning, longing.

And then there she is, the Canaanite woman in this week’s lectionary reading from Matthew 15: 21-28, who peeks her head out from the biblical narrative to shake us back to the core of humanity.  She’s a mother who will not let the discomfort of others bring her to silence.  She’s a loud nuisance as she pleas for help for her demon-possessed daughter.  She’s distraught and no one, not even Jesus’ entourage of twelve, could stop her. She’s an outsider of Jesus’ religious tradition but she could care less; she’s heard about his power and wants a taste of it for her daughter.

It’s not one of Jesus’ finer moments because he calls her a “small dog.”  The Messiah slaps a label on her before going back to what he believes is the important business of caring for his people.  But that’s not enough for her.  She reminds him that even the dogs come to the Table and are fed from its crumbs.  In her boldness, she demands that Jesus see the expansion of his flock beyond his own community.

We need to open our ears to hear people like the Canaanite woman.  People who take whatever we put on them and still come to the Table to say, “No, this is not okay.  Can’t you see what you’ve done?  Don’t you know that your labels have no power here?  You are not going to continue to do business as usual.  People are important.  I’m important.  We all are important.”

We need to be like the Canaanite woman.  

Let’s make this moment the last moment that we sit complacently, focusing on the needs right before our eyes and ignoring the cries around us.

Let’s make this moment the last moment that we allow otherness to drive our actions and fear to rule the day.

Let’s make this the last moment that we let one death or two or three or hundreds pass in silence, as if it didn’t matter because surely there isn’t anything that we could do about it.

Let’s make this moment that united people together from across the country into joining the movement that has been going on for centuries here, shaping our history as colonizers to those that uphold basic human rights within a system that we hope is capable of valuing justice and peace for all.

Or maybe we need to go even more basic than that.  Maybe the basic human right is just this simple…life.  May we all strive for a world that values life and living.  Period.