Many Gifts: One Spirit, the theme of our Pacific Northwest Annual Gathering, brought more than 200 members from UCC congregations into our sanctuary last Friday night and all day Saturday. On Friday night, we were inspired by four preachers: Rev. Dr. Renee McCoy, Rev. Amy Roon, Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown and Rev. Bianca Davis-Lovelace. The topic of Transformation was embodied in each of their messages, Transformation in Christ, Relationships, Community and our Country.
Our hearts were filled when the Samoan Youth Choir lined the aisles of our sanctuary and filled the air with music sung in their native tongue and made an imprint on our sanctuary as they danced to the music. It occurred to me that our sanctuary and physical space would never be the same, that in fact, this brick and mortar church would never be the same—we had also been transformed.
Amidst the sound of music, solid preaching, voices in conversation, the experience of connecting to God through our participation at various prayer stations, we were transformed as individuals, as a denomination and as Christians. The perimeter of Saturday’s gathering was shaped by worship, fellowship, budget and resolution discussions. And at the core of that perimeter was the beginning of a discussion on race and the “ism” that accompanies it. As a gathered people, we began to hear the pain experienced by people of color and those who have been advocates for change from the pulpit and in the community. The conversation was intense at times but guided and protected by the Spirit.
I am forever grateful for the charge from our UCC Constitution which “affirms the responsibility of the Church in each generation to make this faith its own in reality of worship, in honesty of thought and expression, and in purity of heart before God.” It is my hope that as a uniting body, each member and indeed each congregation will use these words as a guiding force as we address the harms created by acts of racism in our separate congregations, in our conferences and denomination as a whole.
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