Car Rally Calls For Racial Justice, End To Systemic Oppression

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RESTON, VA — Faith leaders from around Reston joined members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church Wednesday night at a car rally service in the parking lot of St. Thomas a Becket Church. Through music and words, they called for racial justice and an end to systematic oppression […]

RESTON, VA — Faith leaders from around Reston joined members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church Wednesday night at a car rally service in the parking lot of St. Thomas a Becket Church. Through music and words, they called for racial justice and an end to systematic oppression and violence against people of color.

“We’re one of the first historically black churches in the Reston community,” said Deacon Amanda Andere, one of the organizers of the event. “Since the racial awakening and uprising back in May and June, people have been asking us what were we going to do and respond. For our church, we sometimes contemplated about it and wanted to do something that was safe, but also that was a call to action.”

Many of the members of Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church are older and haven’t been able to attend services since Gov. Ralph Northam issued his stay-at-home order back in March. Since then, services have been conducted in the church’s parking lot on North Shore Drive, with attendees sitting in their cars listening to the sermons and music on their radios.

Organizers at the church decided to replicate that experience Wednesday night with a car rally to ensure that everyone who attended would be able to safely social distance.

Rev. Clyde Casey, associate pastor of Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church, opened the evening with an invocation. He was followed by his wife, Rev. Dr. Jean Robinson-Casey, the church’s pastor, who invoked the late Rep. John R. Lewis in asking the audience to “Get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble” in pursuing racial justice in the U.S.

Leaders of local congregations of faith took turns to deliver short sermons on the subject of racial injustice. (Michael O'Connell/Patch)
Leaders of local congregations of faith took turns to deliver short sermons on the subject of racial injustice. (Michael O’Connell/Patch)

After an opening prayer by Rev. William B. Schardt, the pastor of St. Thomas a Becket, the speakers took turns calling for an end to the persistent and pervasive racial inequities that have led to violence and discrimination against people of color.

“I am asking you, especially the majority of you who are white, to be uncomfortable. I want us to ask ourselves, how is it that every black person we know has a story that they’ve never told their white friends about fearing for their life, just because they are black?” — Rev. Dr. Debra W. Haffner, pastor, Unitarian Universalist Church in Reston

“We seem to use words like trouble and we think we know what they mean. We think we know what simple words like Black Lives Matter mean, but this project is about the redefinition of the way we think about trouble, when we think about blackness and whiteness and lives that matter. This is a moment where the way we speak and talk needs to change.” — Rabbi Michael Holzman, Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation

“I have to be honest with you that I not feeling very peppy these days. Because time after time, after time, we see lives being taken far too soon and too violently and I am not pepped up because we’re exhausted of being distanced during a pandemic.” — Rev. Michelle Nickens, pastor, Washington Plaza Baptist Church

Deacon Amanda Andere, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church (Michael O'Connell/Patch)
Deacon Amanda Andere, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church (Michael O’Connell/Patch)

“We can’t seek justice boldly alone. That our faith rooted in the reality of this world calls for us to have a new approach to kindness and love rooted in racial justice. So I got my hope back when I realized that joy is the resistance to the oppression we face. Real change comes for me at the interception of hope and boldness.” — Deacon Amanda Andere, Martin Luther King Jr. Christian Church

“We find ourselves in the USA, almost 250 years after the founding of our country, 150 years since the Civil War, 50 years since the Great Society, still living an unfulfilled promise. What are the words of the Declaration of Independence? That all are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Why do we keep on getting it wrong?” — Minister Tim Barwick, minister of outreach, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church

“Unnecessary trouble will make our communities better. This global pandemic has exacerbated so many social, racial, and economic injustices that have played out in the world. And more specifically, alienated so many in our United States of America. Together, good people have been brought to a season of judgment on behalf of systemic wrongs.” — Rev. Dr. Marcus Leathers, co-pastor, United Christian Parish

“I don’t feel as if I can encourage you in any way or offer any sort of advice without confessing my white priviledge. It’s a tough thing to confess white priviledge, because it is so invisible to white people. I know that I am immersed in it, but I don’t always see it.” — Rev. Phil Carl, pastor, Christ The Servant Lutheran Church

Some attendees at Wednesday night's service sat on grassy areas adjacent to the parking lot. (Michael O'Connell/Patch)
Some attendees at Wednesday night’s service sat on grassy areas adjacent to the parking lot. (Michael O’Connell/Patch)

This article originally appeared on the Reston Patch

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