Greetings, MT-NWy Conference UCC Leaders,
I have returned to the office this morning from a 5-day stint at Camp Mimanagish (fishing camp and staff retreat) to catch up on all that has been written, and all too much that has not been written, about the events in Charlottesville VA last weekend. We can be proud of the prominent presence and voice of our UCC Minister for Racial Justice, Rev. Traci Blackmon. We can be proud of the many clergy across the Montana – Northern Wyoming Conference UCC who spoke to issues of hatred and violence last Sunday, less than 24 hours after the events. We can be proud of the clergy who gathered in community vigils in our cities, especially Rev. Tracy Heilman who was featured on the front page of the Billings Gazette for her prayer leadership.
It is going to take more than the honest pride we have in our leaders for us to meet the evil of racism and scourge of white privilege. At least two of our congregations have utilized our new UCC White Privilege curriculum this summer, and we all need it. Many of our pastors are actively organizing Montana Interfaith Network groups in their areas, and the organizing around peace and justice faith issues is not to be left to them alone. Letters to the editors of local newspapers are filled with the concern of some of our members, and speaking out also needs to happen neighbor-to-neighbor. Our leaders do make us proud as they articulate our heartfelt faith perspective that denies the power of haters, and we are called to live the love that denies hatred any power among us.
As we witness the duplicity of responses from President Trump, it is clear that the moral bankruptcy of his leadership leaves a vacuum that will be filled by others. The faith in which we were reared and hold dearly will need to be heard, seen, and felt in these times. One thing we can be sure of, the purveyors of hatred and racism will be emboldened. Those who hate will even set themselves against each other, and people of faith will be accused of being one of the sides of haters. We are acutely called to our place in this society and culture by a God of love who teaches us to love. Christians, remember whose you are and pray and practice without ceasing.