As the minister of First Unitarian Church, I would like to offer the following perspective on why First Unitarian Church has chosen to display a Black
Lives Matter sign.
ALL LIVES MATTER! As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. At First Unitarian Church, our congregation includes people with different life experiences, different spiritual understandings, different ages, different abilities, different sexual orientations, different gender expressions, different kinds of families, different racial identities, different ethnic backgrounds, and different economic circumstances. We are grateful for the presence of all these different people within our congregation! We are also grateful for the amazing diversity of people in the larger community beyond our congregation. Just as we believe that our church is stronger and more beautiful because of our diversity, so we believe that our city and our nation are stronger and more beautiful because of the diversity in our city and our nation.
BLACK LIVES MATTER! Undeniably, people of African ancestry have suffered oppression in this land since 1619, when the first enslaved Africans came to Jamestown in the Virginia Colony. Slavery and Jim Crow are part of a long history of mistreatment directed against African-Americans. Although the Civil War ended slavery, and although the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s ended many elements of Jim Crow, African-Americans still continue to struggle against systemic racism that remains embedded in our culture and our institutions. Systemic racism is not necessarily the fault of prejudiced or racist individuals, but it will not go away without the dedicated efforts of many individuals willing to work for justice. At First Unitarian Church, we are aware that for hundreds of years, African-American people have been treated as though their lives did not matter as much as the lives of European-American people. Our Black Lives Matter sign is a reminder to everyone that the tragic social consequences of slavery and Jim Crow still remain with us, and that systemic racism remains a stubborn, unjust reality. Moreover, our Black Lives Matter sign is a reminder to our congregation that as people of faith, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to dismantle systemic racism.
BLUE LIVES MATTER! At First Unitarian Church, we understand that different communities have had different experiences over the years with law enforcement professionals. Within some communities, police officers are viewed with gratitude as people one can always turn to for safety, assistance, and protection. Within other communities, parents often feel the need to have a serious conversation with their children about how to behave when confronted by a police officer. At First Unitarian Church, we have deep respect for law enforcement professionals, for they put their lives on the line each day. We also understand that relationships between police officers and the communities they serve could be improved in many places around the country.
All Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. At First Unitarian Church, we appreciate the truth of each of these statements, and we believe that these statements do not contradict one another. Through dialogue and conversation, we believe that people with differing opinions and experiences can come to a deeper understanding of one another. Through activism and solidarity and justice work, we believe that as people of faith, we can contribute to the realization of our vision of a just society where systemic racism has been dismantled.
We welcome you on Sundays at 10:30 AM if you would like to learn more about our church, about our Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, and about the importance we place on putting our faith into action.
Rev. David Herndon