Feature Focus Article: Social Justice
Our feature focus for the month of May is Social Justice. Where does your heart lead you when you consider matters of justice?
In April, I attended a conference for civil rights activists and faith leaders called Revolutionary Love: Complete the Dream. The conference marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. King. Topics addressed many of the “-isms” of society–racism, classism, sexism, militarism, poverty, immigration, and LGBTQI equality as well as issues related to the indigenous tribes of America.
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village of Manhattan, hosted the conference. It was an honor to meet Dr. Lewis and to visit Middle Church on a Sunday morning.
Middle Church is “a dynamic 1000-member multiracial, multicultural, inclusive congregation in which everyone is welcome just as they are as they come through the door. Lewis is also the Executive Director of The Middle Project, an institute that prepares ethical leaders for a more just society.”
This is what we aspire to at Piedmont. May we grow as a multiracial, multicultural, inclusive congregation.
In that spirit of inclusivity, I share the following, “A Letter to Our Youth,” article I wrote as a guest contributor to Qnotes (LGBT News Publication in Charlotte) under the heading of Spiritual Reflections. (April 6 issue, Vol. 32):
You are loved. Each of you–gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, gender-queer, gender fluid…Beneath whatever identities you claim or do not claim, beneath whatever labels may have been placed on you or hurled at you, there is an individual who is a unique and valuable aspect of creation.
While some of you may experience a lack of support from your family of origin, condemnation from a religious paradigm, or even slurs from shallow-minded bullies, please don’t let those painful moments steal your resolve to be who you are and to find joy in this life. There are people out there (and members of religious institutions out there) who will love you just as you are, whoever you are, and wherever you are on your journey.
May you live fully into your authentic self in a world that is not always kind to difference. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “for nonconformity, the world whips us with its displeasure.” While we’ve seen major improvements in the tolerance level of diversity in the United States, we know there’s still quite way to go before aspects of an ideal culture of inclusion, acceptance, hospitality, kindness, and love will be realized.
The current “real” culture, while it is much improved in the last several decades, frequently offers us messages that reflect quite the opposite of the aforementioned aspirations. Many of us have experienced the “displeasure” that Emerson wrote about so long ago. We’ve experienced it in a world that has historically marginalized us and in a country that continues to do so in many areas.
In the face of prejudice, discrimination, ignorance, and sometimes even hatred, it takes great courage and fierce resolve to move forward, but you have those things; you have that courage. You wouldn’t have made it this far without those qualities.
Take time to appreciate your own beauty. This minister’s prayer is that our world will move forward at a quicker pace toward equality for all people. Imagine walking into a room and bringing all of who you are and being altogether welcomed!
May it be so, my young friends, may it be so.
Rev. Mary Frances Comer