Pastor’s Pen_May 29, 2022

Although we have barely processed the racist killings in Buffalo, New York, on May 25, the nation experienced the carnage of 19 children and two teachers killed in Uvalde, Texas.

African American people and people of goodwill everywhere remain sickened by the hate killings in Buffalo, leading many to contend that right-wing conservatives are opposed to Critical Race Theory (although not taught in public schools) because they do not want this nation and the world to discuss the murderous rampages against Black people that’s embedded in our national story. Bigots slaughtered Blacks in the New York draft riots on July 13-16, 1863. From May 31-June 1, 1921, the financial district of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was decimated and thousands were massacred in the terrible carnage and brutality of racist riots. The Buffalo slayings are only the most recent examples of mass violence against Black people in this nation.

Now we grieve the loss of children. Particularly egregious was the statement by Texas Governor Abbot that gun control was not the issue. If the 18-year-old who simply walked into a store and purchased automatic weapons had been questioned, if not stopped, 21 people could still be alive. In that vein, we have been encouraged by the former chair of our Social Justice Ministry to sign on to the following statement issued by the DC Area Interfaith Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) Network:  

“In recent days, the Presbyterian Church, Office of Public Witness, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (the “largest public service organization comprised of predominantly college-educated African-American women”) have issued powerful statements condemning the racially motivated, premeditated mass shooting on May 14, 2022, in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, killing 10 African Americans and injuring three others, and the killing on May 15, 2022, of a Taiwanese-American doctor in a Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California.”

The DC Area Interfaith GVP Network is a coalition of volunteers from churches, synagogues, and mosques who have agreed to receive and disseminate information to congregants, clergy, and others interested in working to prevent and reduce gun violence. 

With this sorry legacy so evident, I want to commend our Social Justice Ministry for hosting a vigil on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Friday, June 3, 2022. Attendees may bring pictures, newspaper articles, flowers, battery-operated candles, stuffed animals, and other personal items to display at the vigil and throughout the weekend. We hope that this public memorial attracts the attention of elected officials and those seeking office so that they can see the impact gun violence has had on this community and across the District of Columbia. During our worship service on Sunday, June 5, we will honor the 10 victims of the white supremacist gunman in Buffalo and all lives cut short by gun violence. Everyone is encouraged to wear orange June 3-5 and join the Social Justice Ministry in advocating for common-sense gun laws and violence disruption programs in our community.

Pastor’s Pen_May 22, 2022

Just when we think we have seen it all, the right-wing, with its QAnon theories, discovers an insidious way to justify murdering Black people. It is called ‘replacement theory.’ Promoted by Tucker Carlson on Fox News, replacement theory has become the right wing’s dog whistle to motivate the Republican party’s far right conspiracy theory. Replacement theory is the idea that the population growth of black and brown people, promoted by the Democrats, ensures that white people will no longer be the majority in this nation. Carlson’s rhetoric falsely claims that native-born white people will be replaced by people of color and immigrants. Of course, we cannot forget our Jewish brothers and sisters who are not a threat to replace white people but remain high on the right wing’s hate list.

The egregious example of replacement theory that occurred last Saturday featured a racist who drove three hours from his home to a neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, to murder Black people. He targeted this community because of its large number of black citizens. So, he drove to Buffalo to kill total strangers intentionally and indiscriminately. He turned a marketplace into a shooting gallery and, in his wake, left 10 people dead and several wounded. He gleefully utilized his newly purchased automatic rifle and body armor like a child on Christmas morning playing war games. The body armor prevented him from being disabled by the security guard, who bravely returned fire, but the body armor protected the shooter and gave him the time to kill the guard.

What can we take away from this tragic account? Many of us have lamented for years that gun violence must end and that there is no need for automatic weapons on the streets of our nation. As much as we sing “Kumbaya” around the campfire and listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, hatred is still alive and well. The nation is rife with venomous feelings that originated before the Civil War. We must not sleep through the right wing’s dog whistles of hidden racism. Although we develop political, social, and psychological strategies to combat this evil, when it’s all said and done, the words of the gospel song say it best, “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.”

Pastor’s Pen_May 8, 2022

As the nation turns its thoughts to our mothers, we recall that women in the 21st century face extraordinary challenges. Women of color occupy the lowest rung of the economic ladder. Skyrocketing inflation, grocery bills, gas prices, and essential medical services are spiraling out of control. Add to that, rising costs of housing and childcare, and we witness the grim picture of what women experience at this moment in history.

What we celebrate on this Mother’s Day is the remarkable resilience of Black women. In the horrible days of slavery, Black women were whipped and brutalized alongside men. In the 19th century, when white women were placed on pedestals by a society that considered them too delicate and fragile for work, Black women worked the fields. If they were pregnant, they gave birth and were expected to return to the fields and resume their work the same day. When we consider all these factors, it is clear why Langston Hughes, in his poem, “Mother to a Son”: “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor.”

For what our women endured and have accomplished, on this day, we say thank you to Black women everywhere.

Pastor’s Pen_May 1, 2022

As the weather will soon turn warm, I want to update you on the status of our air conditioner repairs. The work is underway; the piping is being replaced. Unfortunately, we recently received word that a computer chip, crucial to the operation of the air conditioner, is not available. This is due to a supply chain delay caused by skyrocketing demand, the pandemic and other factors.

We are developing contingency plans so that we will be prepared when the weather warms.  We intend to move our services to the Heritage Hall beginning the third Sunday in May. We will not return to the gymnasium during this period to protect the equipment. The constant moving of equipment, that has contributed to the quality of our worship services (in-house and virtually), causes damage.  Utilizing Heritage Hall will minimize these issues. We will continue to update you on the air conditioner repairs as information becomes available.

As the protocol requirements in this Covid era seem to change constantly, we want to ensure our membership is aware of our procedures. We will continue to require masks for all worship services. We also will require proof of vaccination. Please remember to always carry your card with you. This pandemic has worked a hardship on all of us. As your leaders—pastor, deacons, trustees—we will continue to make every effort to ensure the safety of all our members. We are aware that these protocols are challenging. Please remember that eventually, this will end. As Deacon Hall is fond of saying, “Let’s keep it all in God’s hands.”