We denounce, in the strongest terms, the actions of the angry mob that invaded our nation’s Capitol Building on the Day of Epiphany, and the words of the leaders that incited the violence, including those of the President and others.
While we celebrated more people than ever participating in our democracy by voting however their consciences directed them, this mob tried to stop the process of Congress counting the electoral college vote. While we prayed for peace in response to the President spreading lies about the election results, he and others encouraged supporters to come to Washington DC to fight to throw away the votes of their fellow Americans. While we watched the television in horror as the insurgents broke windows and stormed into the Capitol Building, symbols and words of bigotry, hatred and violence flew, and Capitol Police were physically attacked. We wondered aloud what would have happened had the majority of the mob been black instead of white.
The lies claiming voter fraud that led up to this day blatantly focused on areas with a large proportion of black and brown voters. We have heard many reports that domestic white supremacist groups have grown and become stronger over the past few years. We’ve read of terrible incidents and seen video of gatherings. We’ve been warned that domestic terrorism is the greatest security threat to our nation. Now we have seen our democracy itself threatened by thousands of citizens in this insurgency.
We hold in great esteem leaders who organize and lead non-violent protests against injustice. They work very hard to prepare the crowds to peacefully resist and work to improve society. What we witnessed January 6 was just the opposite. This crowd was purposely encouraged to fight those with whom they disagree.
Now we ask God to help our country pick up the pieces, to heal and work for God’s justice. We mourn the loss of life and pray for all who were injured. We thank God for all who worked to protect and help others, as well as for those cleaning up the mess and putting our government workspaces back into order. We call for leaders to be held accountable. We call for equal treatment under the law. We pray for transformation of those bent on violence. We yearn for peace with justice.
Social Ministries Committee of St. Paul Lutheran Church of Teaneck
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Dismantling Racism Discussion Group
Our group began by reading books and discussing a chapter each week. We first read “Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the U.S.” by Lenny Duncan. In this book we learned about the author’s great joy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as well as his disappointments with it. He shared about racism he has experienced all across our country. He also gave advice on how congregations like ours can improve. We found his chapter on art within church buildings especially helpful as we make plans for our new location.
We have read “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi. In this book, the author shares his personal evolution through many different specific types of racism, toward anti-racism. He also defines how assimilationist, segregationist and racist thoughts are involved in policy decisions – both formal and informal policies. Some of Mr. Kendi’s major points in the first half of this book include:
Ø Segregationist ideas are based on the belief that one group is so inferior that it cannot be raised up, and so must be kept separate from the dominant culture.
Ø Assimilationist ideas feel the inferior group can be raised up with education, exposure and training, to adapt to the dominant culture.
Ø Antiracist ideas are based on the belief that all racial groups are equal, and so support policy that reduces racial inequities.
Ø The only remedy to past racist discrimination is present antiracist discrimination.
Ø Racist power creates the policies that cause racial inequities.
Ø Policies, not group behavior, create economic and education disparities between races.
Ø Racist power produces racist policies out of self-interest, and then produces racist ideas to justify those policies.
Our discussion group meets every Friday afternoon on Zoom.
ZOOM Password 092550
From our pastor.
Soli Deo Gloria.
My heart is broken. Tears flow unceasingly from what we all witnessed yesterday in Washington DC. Seeing this riot, seeing this attempt to dismantle our democracy brought out all the fear and anxiety that people of color experience as we attempt to navigate a world that seems to constantly call for our demise.
I remember my mom saying that as a young girl she witnessed the marching through her Queens, NY neighborhood of the German American Nazi Party; their words and hatred fueling her fear that one day, they would come for her and those she loved.
I remember no televisions in our living room growing up, because my parents didn’t want us to see the news of four black girls being killed in Sunday school. Our parents didn’t want us to see the National Guard escorting children into schools, and the invectives and hatred in the faces of adults determined to block the integration of their schools.
I remember my mom getting dressed up and making sure she was imminently qualified, for an interview for an apartment in a new development being built in Brooklyn, NY. Her application was denied.
But through all these atrocities, (and all people of color can recount their stories and histories to anyone willing to listen), my grandparents and parents believed that voting was the key to empowerment; that the system that had not been designed for us would nevertheless respect the will of the people. We were taught that our vote mattered and was our sacred responsibility. We were taught to stay informed and to vote.
The assault on voting has been unprecedented in these last few years. Redrawing of voting districts, arbitrary requirements to register and vote have blatantly tried to oppress our right to vote.
But the people prevailed in this voting cycle. The threats, the intimidations, the long lines, the questioning of the legitimacy of one’s vote: none of this prevented an historic vote.
Yesterday, as Congress attempted to fulfill their responsibility to certify the electoral college vote, an ugly mob descended on the halls of Congress. People were killed. People were injured. And those of us who depend on the law and the police to protect us, were afraid.
My first instinct is to, besides weeping and lamenting, is to pray. Prayer is our faith filled understanding that we believe that God is present, and we, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can effect a change.
God of our weary tears, God of our silent fears, God who has cradled and held us, we come to you on our knees, bowed by the events occurring on the Feast of the Epiphany. We cry out for justice. We cry out for peace. You, O God, are our strength. And you have promised, in Jesus Christ, that we are never alone. We pray, O God, for our nation. Bless us with leaders who will work for the good of all people. Bless and grant courage to those who speak out against violence and hatred. Be with those who work to make our communities safe for all. We mourn the loss of life. Be with their families as they mourn. We pray with hope that a better world is possible. And strengthened by your Holy Spirit, may we be instruments of peace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
To God Alone the Glory!
The Rev. Patt Kauffman
St Paul Lutheran Church