More than 20 clergy leaders sign statement condemning racism and white supremacy
The Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association, which was founded more than 30 years ago, has authored a statement condemning white supremacy and systemic racism.
As of press time on Wednesday, June 24, more than 20 clergy, representing Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities in Brooklyn Heights, have signed the statement, according to the Association’s co-presidents, the Rev. Adriene Thorne, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. Katherine Salisbury, associate rector at the Pro-Cathedral of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity.
An excerpt of the statement reads: “As a multi-faith group we affirm that every person is made in the divine image and possesses inherent dignity and worth. The recent death of George Floyd as a result of police brutality manifests the evils of white supremacy and systemic racism. We condemn these and all forms of racial violence.” The full-statement may be read here.
The Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association has convened monthly for Bible studies, discussions and programs. Their members have also been very quick to respond to national crises, organizing candlelight vigils, services, and marches, often on very short notice. The Clergy Association also organizes the annual 9/11 Commemoration Service on the Promenade.
Many of the member congregations, including St. Ann & the Holy Trinity and Grace Churches, have also participated in protests, marches and vigils since the police killing of George Floyd and the worldwide growth of the Black Lives Matter movement this year.
The Rev. Erika Meyer, associate rector at Grace Church, reports that the parish has marched in two protests as a church — most recently, the Juneteenth march across the Brooklyn Bridge. “The last march we gathered 20 folks with short notice,” she said.
Moreover, Grace Church has a lay-led ministry called LIFT (Loving Intentionally and Faithfully Together) which, Meyer explains, “creates opportunities for discernment and action regarding matters of racial justice and faith.
LIFT is currently launching a Workshop series called Raising Kids in a Racially Diverse World, a Summer Reading List called ‘Reading for Righteousness.’ It has also organized forums on our response to COVID19’s racial skew. Links to the projects can be found on the Grace Church website homepage, www.gracebrooklyn.org.
Plymouth Church, whose history of fighting slavery and racial injustice dates back to its founding in 1847, recently held an evening focused on “uncomfortable truths,” whereby participants unpacked and examined their emotions and anxieties, and nurtured truths related to racial justice.
Plymouth Church also has a web page titled “Black Lives Matter. Black Futures Matter” that includes extensive resources on being a white ally and addressing white privilege, and the history of institutional racism in the U.S. and the world, as well as suggested reading for children and families.
Rabbi Samuel Weintraub of the Kane Street Synagogue told the Eagle via email, “We’re proud to stand with Black Lives Matter and have added banners in front of the Synagogue in support of the movement for racial justice. The recent start of our ‘Me and White Supremacy’ Book Circles is one step to help us begin a process of reflection, education, and teshuvah, as we work toward ways that we can individually and communally contribute to real change.”
Teshuvah is the Jewish concept and practice of atoning for sin. Atonement goes beyond repentance; it is the taking of action to correct a wrongdoing.
Kane Street Synagogue’s most recent Shabbat services celebrated Juneteenth. Rabbi Weintraub’s sermon, “Juneteenth and how Jews can fight racism,” is available on the Synagogue’s website.
The Oratory Parishes (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church and the Brooklyn Oratory) are initiating a three-part Zoom discussion among their members as a form of self-reflection and assessment, according to Fr. Michael Callaghan, pastor of the Oratory Parish of Assumption.
“Our initial conversations will be rooted in ‘Open Wide Our Hearts,’ a pastoral from the U.S. Catholic Bishops challenging local faith communities to actively address racism,” said Fr. Callaghan. “We will be identifying and initiating concrete action from these conversations and will be collaborating with congregations in the fall in an inter-faith approach to building racial justice.”
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