We echo so many in saying that we, your church leadership, denounce and condemn the forces of violence and systems of oppression that continually lead to the suffering and death of our Black and Brown siblings in this country. We are heartbroken and angry at the murder of George Floyd in South Minneapolis, and we say his name and remember his life ended too soon by a system designed to oppress him. George Floyd, beloved child of God. There are other names, too, of course: Breonna Taylor, beloved child of God. Ahmaud Arbery, beloved child of God. The list goes on.
These past couple of weeks have further illuminated a long-standing tradition in white America: we have not listened to the communities of color around us. We have not advocated for their flourishing. We have not interrogated our own internal biases and have not repented for the ways that we are complicit in racist systems of oppression. We know this is ongoing, never finished work, and we certainly have work to do.
During this week in which our own sacred text has been used to justify violence in the name of law and order, we must remember that peace is not the absence of conflict or protest. Peace is active justice. Peace is a just order. As such, we are in solidarity with communities justifiably crying out for justice, and we join them in this cry. As Christians, we believe in a God who is on the side of those on the margins, and this is where we must go, too.
And so, what can we do?
We can give. As people who live in the whitest state in the nation, we must start by acknowledging our privilege. One of the ways we exercise our privilege is by sharing our financial resources. This week, we invite you to consider giving to these organizations:
Spectrum Youth and Family Services. Based in Burlington, Spectrum provides services to at-risk youth, including LGBTQ youth and youth of color in Vermont. They provide shelter, skills programs, and prevention and intervention around substance abuse and mental health issues. You can donate here: https://donate.spectrumvt.org/donation.
Rutland Area NAACP. The Rutland Area branch of the NAACP is dedicated to the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminating race-based discrimination in Vermont. You can donate here: https://naacprutland.org/about/become-a-member/.
Racial Justice Program - Peace & Justice Center. Based in Burlington, the Peace and Justice Center’s Racial Justice Programs seek to spread awareness about the inequity people of color face in Vermont and to build understanding and collaborations to undo racism. There is a focus on helping those who experience white privilege meaningfully engage in racial justice work. You can donate here: https://www.pjcvt.org/become-a-member/.
We can pray. Let us pray for an end to racism and all forms of oppression in this state and country. We can ask God to surround George Floyd’s family with a peace that surpasses all understanding. We can hold up all communities of color with love and light.
We can learn. We encourage everyone to share anti-racist resources.
A few useful ones include these two for children and young adults:
https://thebrownbookshelf.com/2020/06/02/kidlit-rally-for-black-lives and https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/
and this general list of resources for people of all ages:
Additionally, church member Tara Affolter, Professor of Education Studies at Middlebury College, and member of our Board of Missions and Social Concerns, has graciously offered to share her expertise in anti-racism work with us. Stay tuned for more information.
We can act. We can use our voices and our bodies to create change. As a church, let us commit to living out our faith in real and tangible ways… a faith that is committed to the flourishing of all, especially those most vulnerable.
Black Lives Matter.
Grace and Peace,
Katy Smith Abbot