When I was a campus minister I used to take college students to Montreat, a Presbyterian conference center nestled in the mountains of North Carolina for the yearly College Conference. In January of 2011 we had the privilege of hearing from civil rights activist, Congressman John Lewis. As he began telling stories about being one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, about sit-ins, and marches, and his other non-violent civil rights work, we were mesmerized, finding strength, determination, humor and great hope in his stories. One of his encouragements in particular stuck with me. He said, ”When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something, do something! Get in trouble! Good trouble, necessary trouble!
After the murder of George Floyd, as people were speaking out, protesting, and posting to their social media accounts I found myself wanting to say something too. I wanted to demonstrate that I was standing in solidarity with the Black community but it seemed anything I could say would fall short. Within a few days people started posting black squares to their Instagram accounts as a way of muting the self-promotional contents of their own accounts in order to amplify Black voices. But, by the end of that same day I began seeing others post that we should not post a blackout photo as it takes up space, drowning out Black voices. I didn’t know what to do. Should I post a blackout photo or not? Should I say something or not? In my confusion and fear of messing up, I did nothing.
But that is the problem. I literally saw something not right, something terribly unjust. I watched the video of a police officer with his knee upon a black man, crying out, “I can’t breathe!” and I did nothing.
I know I am not alone. That is why I want to invite you to join me and the rest of the staff at First Presbyterian Church, Bend in taking a 28 day challenge in which we will Lament, Listen, Learn, Look, and Love. We will lament how we have been complacent and complicit in racial injustice. We will listen to the voices of Black people, learning from those voices as they speak to us in articles, books, quizzes, and podcasts. We will look at how racism infects our own minds, our own communities, even our church. And we will love. We will put what we are learning into loving action. There will be regular opportunities to come together (via Zoom) to have conversation around what we are learning, daily journal prompts for individual reflection, as well as a closed Facebook group where we can interact with one another.
My hope and my prayer is that at the end of 28 days we will have a better idea of how to stand in solidarity with the Black community, how to speak up, how to love well, and how to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.
Please sign up for this 28 day challenge! I look forward to making this journey with you.
Grateful for you,
Rev. Kally Elliott, Pastor for Spirituality, Community Life, and Pastoral Care
Every Day you will have the opportunity to Listen, Learn, Lament and Love through different articles, videos and podcasts.
Reflect each day in the your 28 Day Challenge packet there is a journal spot for you to reflect and write down your thoughts.
Share your reflections through out the 28 Day challenge in our Facebook group or in Zoom discussion groups.
Pray for the places you are challenged and for those you are learning about whose lives may be different than yours.