January 14 – May 31, 2019
As many of you already know, a few groups of white supremacists are planning to gather near the White House this coming Sunday. As your pastors, we know how disconcerting, disheartening, angering, and even frightening an event like this can be when it happens anywhere, and even more so, when it happens in our own community. Like all of you, we feel strongly that this hateful gathering is unwelcome in our city. We condemn white supremacy when it holds office and we condemn white supremacy when it gathers in the public square. We stand in solidarity with our neighbors, friends, family, and community members most vulnerable to the presence of these white supremacist and we will be extremely mindful of this on Sunday morning when we gather for worship.
We know that the DC metro area is home to amazing people who love justice, who long for equality, who struggle against white supremacy, and who live out the principles of beloved community everyday in how we live, work, and be. We know that when a group like this gathers in our city it is an offense to who we are and everything we stand for. We see their presence as a challenge in the struggle for the soul of our community, city, and nation. And so with you we ask, “what should our response to this gathering be?” Now because we are Baptist, we take each person’s freedom of conscience seriously. Each of us is called to respond differently to situations of moral crisis depending upon our values and social location.
Yet, while this remains the case, there are always things that we can think about together. One of those things is this: our worship and community life is our daily struggle against white supremacy. We hope that you do not take this lightly nor overlook it as hyperbole. Instead, we hope you can see with us how we are already engaged in this work. And why it matters that we continue in this work. Our efforts to produce a liturgy that is multi-cultural and reflective of the bodies and lives of the people in this community is anti-white supremacist work. Our commitment to being shaped by the theologies, the ideologies, values, and teachings of the historic black church and Latin American Liberationist tradition is anti-white supremacist work. Our gatherings, whether on Sunday morning, or Tuesday evening, or Saturday afternoons—gatherings of people who intentionally bring all of who they are without apology or regret or censure is anti-white supremacist work. Embodying the beloved community in our local expression as a community of faith is anti-white supremacist work. Put differently, we struggle against white supremacy by committing to this place, being our selves in this place, and developing structures both in this place and in the larger world for other people, especially those most on the margins, to be themselves too. We win the struggle for the soul of this community by being community together.
This Sunday white supremacists will gather, but there will be another gathering happening that is more powerful than theirs. It will be a gathering that has happened every Sunday since 1862 in the heart of this nation's capital. It will be our gathering for weekly worship where we will lift up songs from different cultures, pray in languages not of our own, be shaped by preaching from the liberationist tradition, and ask the spirit of the Lord to lead us in ways that move us from the death grip of white supremacy to the liberating and life giving hand of God.