Stand Up & Step Out

“It’s such a loving community.”

“I feel so accepted.”

“I love that I can be myself.”

These are just a few of the direct quotes shared with me multiple times as I was helping a friend with a video project for my childhood camp.

Less than an hour from that camp was the one time home of a different “camp” or compound of white supremacists.  They gained national notoriety due to their unabashed public racist rhetoric. Their hate speech was initially communicated via flyers, then moved to cross burnings and then culminated with a “parade” in the local town.  And the town responded, along with many others.

Those who marched promoting hate and division numbered less than a dozen. Those who lined the street expressing love and inclusion numbered over a thousand. It was an incredible moment to witness. People from all walks of life stood up to hate and did so by banding together in love. And that was just the beginning. Empowered by that love, people worked together to bring an end to this very small,  but very vocal group of people.

After the tragedy in Charlottesville this weekend, many people, as a colleague wrote to me, “are waking up” to the growing prevalence of hatred and bigotry in our neighborhoods.  Dear friends, we must lean heavily into our Baptismal Covenant Commitment to, “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of EVERY human being.” This is the commitment we each made, a commitment that calls us to wake up, stand up, and bring the full force of the love of Christ to root out hate wherever we encounter it.

What the campers felt is truly heart warming.

“It’s such a loving community.”

“I feel so accepted.”

“I love that I can be myself.”

These are the same sentiments that I hear echoed in our local faith communities.

Our call now is to move out into our neighborhoods to ensure all of God’s beloved feel this as well.

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