What is the church's role in the work of curtailing the violence, injustice, and polarization in our societies?
Violence and racial injustice are making headlines these days, brought to attention by the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic killings of black men and police officers in the United States. But this kind of violence and hatred isn't limited to the U.S. Canada has also suffered racial attacks and discrimination, as Canadian people of colour know all too well.
In 1976, (the soon-to-be Rev.) Anthony Bailey and his brother were attacked in Montreal by men shouting racial epithets and his brother was stabbed to death. This tragedy became part of the journey toward what Bailey calls his covenant with God to be an instrument of peace and racial reconciliation.
Rev. Bailey's church, Parkdale United in Ottawa, was also vandalized in a hate crime in January of this year. He describes both incidents in an interview by the United Church Observer.
Rev. Bailey was also interviewed recently by CBC Radio regarding the shootings of African American men by police in Baton Rogue and Minnesota.
This social turmoil, wherever it happens, is disturbing and we all need to find ways to support each other and work toward peace and justice in our communities and through our networks.
How would the church’s response be to the points raised by the Black Lives Matters movement? What can we contribute toward the work of curtailing the violence, injustice, and polarization in our societies? Are there parallels in the Canadian context to the civil unrest we are seeing in the United States?
There are a number of United Church-related resources, social media posts, and networks which you may find helpful as we consider these questions:
- In response to these incidents of violence in the United States, United Church Moderator Jordan Cantwell has sent a letter of sympathy and support to our ecumenical partners there.
- We have also posted a Prayer for Times of Violence that can be adapted for your church services or devotions.
- In a two-part blog post on the Winnipeg Presbytery website, “A Deacon’s Musing - Holy Saturday #1” and “Holy Saturday #2,” Richard Manley-Tannis examines the assumptions and context of these violent acts and explores what it may mean for the church today.
- A group of United Church people shared an open letter in April, “A Statement of Solidarity with BLM-TO from People of The United Church of Canada,” and is inviting signators.
- “Black Lives Matter to the United Church,” is an independent Facebook group created to help United Church people connect, learn together, and plan actions of solidarity with Black Lives Matter-TO.
- Take a look at the United Church’s Facebook group, “Behold! An Intercultural Community,” for expanded discussion about Intercultural ministry in the Canadian context.
- A video created for Black History Month offers an introduction to the little-known history of Black peoples in The United Church of Canada, from 100 years of Union United in Montreal to the present day across Canada.
- Do you have additional resources to share? Let us know on the United Church Facebook page.
Called to “seek peace, and pursue it,” now is the time to teach, preach, and work for peace with justice in our communities.
Aaron Gallegos is editor of the Round the Table blog.