Green Street UMC declares: ‘Black and Brown Lives Matter’

Green Street UMC declares:  ‘Black and Brown Lives Matter’
January 23
00:00 2015

On Jan. 11, Green Street United Methodist Church, 639 S. Green St., held a congregational forum on the theme of “Racism and Privilege.”

Green Street has been recognized by the Methodist Church and the city for its racial diversity; welcoming of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) community; ministries to assist people in need; and public activism on social justice issues.

The forum was sponsored by the church’s Anti-Racism Team as an effort to come together in a time of racial tension in America. More than 90 people attended the Sunday School forum, where African-American and Hispanic members reflected on the struggles they have been experiencing in the wake of the deaths of unarmed black men by police in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. They talked about the slogan “Black and
Brown Lives Matter” that has been appearing at protests and what it means to them.

Amaris Carr, one of the members of the Green Street Anti-Racism team, said recent events have her wondering whether her white friends and fellow church members are willing to stand with her.
“That’s why saying ‘Black and Brown Lives Matters’ is so important,” she said.

Following the forum, Rev. Willard Bass and Rev. Kelly P. Carpenter presented a dialogue sermon, reflecting on the baptism of Jesus. Rev. Bass said, “The words that were spoken from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son,’ were not simply for Jesus alone. Through Jesus, all people have become beloved children of God. As a diverse congregation, we have been working on demonstrating that all means all.”

Rev. Carpenter made it clear to white congregants that being “color-blind” is not acceptable.
“Trying to jump pass the message by giving a universal declaration that ‘all lives matter’ is a way of not seeing that the experience of having Black or Brown skin in America is a different experience,” he said.
He challenged the congregation to “own up” to the reality of white skin privilege. “If you want a real, authentic cross-racial relationship with someone, denying white privilege is a barrier to making that happen,” he said.

Following the service, worshipers were invited to come forward into the chancel for a church family picture. They stood behind two banners that read “Black & Brown Lives Matter: Will You Stand with Us?” and “Owning up to White Privilege Matters: We Will Stand with You.”

A congregational statement was affirmed to go along with the photo. The Anti-Racism Team called members to engage in community actions that demonstrate their commitment. A list of suggested activities, books and upcoming trainings were provided.

Following the photo, one white member commented, “It was an inspiring and unifying moment for our congregation.”

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