Many CERG congregations are choosing to respond to the events of the Black Lives Matter movement by posting “Black Lives Matter” signs in front of their congregations. And, unfortunately, many of those signs are being desecrated. (read the UUWorld Coverage of these incidents)
River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Maryland erected a Black Lives Matter banner last summer that was vandalized twice and stolen once (read the Washington Post coverage). After replacing the banner each time and working with police to develop a thus-far-unsuccessful plan to catch the perpetrator(s), the congregation turned to consider what this destruction meant to their witness to the racism and violence that permeates American culture.
River Road decided to begin weekly vigils at the roadside by the reinstated banner. Their first vigil, on September 25th, was attended by more than 50 congregants and guests. It began with a worship service that centered and connected the group with prayer, readings and song. The vigil participants then lit candles and processed to the roadside, singing and drumming for 20 minutes. They plan to continue the Friday evening vigils into the foreseeable future.
Senior minister Rev. Nancy MacDonald Ladd says, “We think of our weekly vigils as a Living Witness for black lives. By holding the signs along a busy thoroughfare in front of our congregational home, we signal to ourselves and others that we have a personal stake in the work of dismantling racism. It’s not just an institution, but individual people committed enough to bear that message and all it entails in their own two hands. Every witness is important, and this Living Witness feeds our spirits for the action ahead.”
If your congregation is considering posting a sign please read last week’s post about what the Central East Regional Staff feel you should do to be prepared for this sort of activity. If posting a sign doesn’t work for your congregation, that’s okay too. There are other things your congregation can do. More on that soon.
Rev. Megan Foley
Central East Region Staff