Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

“The arc of the moral universe is long …. and it will bend toward justice if we bend it.”
DeRay McKesson, “On the Other Side of Freedom”

Photo by Esther Gorlee on UnsplashI’m sure that like me, many of you drew long deep breaths of relief last month when the jury found former Minneapolis police detective Derek Chauvin guilty in the murder of George Floyd.

Joy was fleeting, as news of yet another black American shot by an officer was reported even as the verdict was being read. But the relief remained. As the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, dean of Episcopal Divinity School, said "Today the arc bent toward us just a little bit. It bent so we could step up on it and stand on it and keep it bending! While we take a deep breath of relief, we remember that George Floyd lost his. Let us continue to fight for the kind of justice that all who draw breath deserve."

In our relief and our resolve, let’s remember to ask: what would have happened if the original police report was all the evidence available? What would have happened if then seventeen-year-old Darnella Frazier had NOT stopped and filmed Mr. Floyd’s death, had not uploaded that footage onto social media? What might have happened if there had not been an international outcry for justice?

The disproportionate use of force against Black Americans may be the most visible symptom, but it is just one piece of a much larger and more pervasive pattern of white supremacy baked into American culture and institutions from our very beginning.

In her new book “The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community,” the Rev Stephanie Spellers confronts her own beloved denomination, the Episcopal Church, with the question “how does a denomination historically connected to establishment and empire become a church that loves Jesus, lives in solidarity with the oppressed and seeks the flourishing of all God’s children.” It’s a question all of our progressive, mainline denominations might well ask.

After this year of COVID disruption, amid a decades long decline in church participation across America, in the face of our deepening understanding of racism in all of our cultural institutions, there is hope.

As we celebrate Pentecost once again, rejoicing in the gift of the Holy Spirt and the birth of the church, let’s join Spellers in seeing the church not as cracked and broken, but cracked open so that love can be poured out. Let’s recommit ourselves to the work and joy and meaning of becoming, ever becoming, Beloved Community.

Photo by Esther Gorlee on Unsplash