Showing Up For The Beloved Community

This past Sunday, Rev. Marlin Lavanhar spoke about how grief is like staring nose-to-nose with a painting. You can’t see anything else. You can’t even see the painting in all its detail; it’s all-encompassing. But then, with time, things start to come into focus; things beyond the image start to show up in the periphery.

As I told the Racial Justice Ministry leadership in a recent email, it was only UUCWC’s consistent and persistent work in the world that could shake me from staring at my grief these recent months. It was only the images of you posted to FaceBook, masked and with signs, engaged, faithful and working, that let the rest of the world exist – matter – beyond my own “stuff.”

In these pandemic months, in this time of self-protection, other people and other communities are doubling down on the idealization of individualism, othering, and the hoarding of resources given to some by supremacy systems. But not UUCWC. In fact, this is how you were described in a recent email to me from a local activist, Catherine J. Fulmer-Hogan: “For years, UUCWC has been one of the strongest advocates for social and racial justice in our community.

This Saturday (July 18) at 1pm there will be the next peaceful protest for police accountability at the Hopewell Township police department. Hear more from Catherine J. Fulmer-Hogan’s invitation to us:

“While the world has watched, marched and protested in support of Black Lives Matter in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, it is clear that residents of Hopewell Valley both broadly support the push for societal change as well as harbor a desire to see substantive change to address the injustices in our own community; this includes heartbreaking and personal stories from Black people—and all people of color—about racism and bias within the Hopewell Township Police Department.

“Hopewell Rally for Police Accountability held its first peaceful rally at the municipal building just down the street from the UUCWC on June 13th. Our second march and rally in Hopewell Borough was held on June 28th. The peaceful events showed an outpouring of support from both people of color and anti-racist allies in our community. Our voices have also grown during Hopewell Township Committee meetings, which have seen attendance swell as we continue to put pressure on the township to commit to change in our community.

“To date, our petition to demand accountability and an end to racism in the Hopewell Township Police Department has received almost 700 signatures. Our demands are simple:

  • A change of leadership within the department
  • Rigorous hiring practices that demand accountability of all officers, takes into account exposure to or lack of experiences with diverse communities, and education or equivalent experience.
  • Increased racial bias and discrimination training.
  • Transparency to internal and on-duty incidents regarding police misconduct.
  • Returning Sergeant Michael Sherman, the only black member of the police department, to active duty.”

I have no doubt many of you have many questions about the conversations around policing in this country and the potential alternatives. I encourage all of us to take those questions, our curiosity, this information stated above, and held most tightly, our faithful vision for a true and possible Beloved Community and show up when we are asked. There are no accolades for holding back until we are comfortable; until history tells us on which side we should be.

I look forward to seeing you on Saturday (masked, with signs, engaged, faithful and working).

Rev. Kim