by Von Clemans
I live in Charlotte. Last week, on the national news and social media, we became another in a long list of cities which have experienced a violent death, protests, and even riots. Some of you know what we’ve been through. One of the images that will stick with me is a line of Charlotte’s faith leaders, from many faith traditions, standing arm in arm between the protesters and the police trying to be a buffer to keep the protests non-violent.
If your setting is like mine there are many different opinions on how or even if to respond to these public events. Typically, pastors may speak from pulpits to bring a witness of our faith tradition to our public lives. I am ordained as a pastor, but my vocation, my call is to lead in educational ministry. So I want to speak to educators, those on multiple staff teams to be sure, but even more to part-time and volunteer educators serving in smaller congregations across North America.
Use these terrible events as teachable moments. Bring the rich traditions of our reformed faith to life by connecting what is happening in the news with what we believe. Look to your confessional statements that address racial and societal injustice. Look to denominational statements released at times like this. Look to prayers and devotions for times of local and national crisis. Look to resources and studies to help your folks understand a bigger picture. Look to the Bible and its relentless call to justice and righteousness. Look to Jesus the Christ who models the compassion of God and God’s inclusion of those we would reject. Look and find and share.
If yours is a lone voice, connect with other educators in your area. Cross denominational and even interfaith lines to find a support system for your efforts. Help your people — children, youth, and adults — prepare for the realities of the world we live in.
Sometimes you have to stand, arm in arm, between opposing forces to be a faith-based buffer when chaos erupts. But don’t wait for the chaos. Engage in the daily, weekly, ongoing task of forming a people who are shaped by the God of grace, compassion, non-violence, and love. Then, when you are facing the chaos, they will have your back.