Op/Ed: An open letter to the town of Darien, from your clergy.
To the Editor:
We are the pastors of many churches and denominations in town. We know you don’t all know us- but we each came to town to serve congregations. We are honored to be here through the support of your neighbors, our congregants, our friends. We all have committed our lives to Christian service. Over the past three weeks, we have been asked — implicitly and explicitly— how we will live out the faith that we proclaim in this town at this time. Below is our united statement, as well as our commitment to action. We pray it is deserving of your attention and consideration.
As clergy members, we cling to and are compelled by the words of the prophet Micah (6:8):
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
These words were lived out by Jesus Christ, and we have made it our lives' missions to align ourselves with his teaching and deeds. Now more than ever, we declare that the abundant life described through the entirety of Scripture can only begin to be realized when people of color who have been marginalized for centuries in this country are empowered and given every opportunity to pursue the flourishing and meaningful life intended for all creatures by the Creator.
The Darien clergy condemns the killing of George Floyd. As people of Christian faith, we believe that God animates our entire world and has placed the Divine Image in every human being so we may all experience the life of freedom and love described by Christ. Mr. Floyd's life was horrifically cut short- along with that of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor among others too numerous to name here. Many similar atrocities have been committed by those who claimed a Christian worldview. We denounce such acts and attitudes, and we testify through this letter our re-commitment to the way of Christ - justice and equity for all.
We also want to express our sincere respect for and appreciation of our police officers in town. We acknowledge our need for women and men of integrity in our community to serve us when we are vulnerable and in need. We know that the department works hard every day in a just and civil manner.
We have much to grieve, much to learn, and much to do. Over the next six months, several of us will together participate in a curriculum called Sacred Conversations to End Racism, developed by the United Church of Christ denomination. Beyond the essential learning we will undergo as individual leaders, we hope that these sessions will be springboards into more community action, advocacy for our brothers and sisters of color, and a broader conversation among the greater Darien community.
We know that the struggle of the black and brown community must become one deeply shared by all of us. We desire to work together with all community leaders and members committed to creative solutions, productive dialogue, and systemic healing. As pastors and disciples of Christ we are committed to and advocate finding peaceful means for resolving our differences
In addition to these things, here are our commitments.
· We commit ourselves to listen: We defer to our brothers and sisters of color and desire to hear the painful truth of their experiences.
· We commit ourselves to discomfort: As we wrestle with the sins of our past and present, we will not look good. We will engage honestly and attempt a non-defensive posture.
· We commit ourselves to give: our time, our talent and our treasure- for the good of those who have suffered the indignities of longstanding racist policies and mindsets.
· As always, we commit to the Christian practice of compassion for all, across the spectrum of experiences, from surprised defensiveness to vulnerable pain. Our prayer for our entire community is for grace and truth to abound.
Written with love, sorrow and resolve —
Christ Community Church, Rev. Landon Reesor
First Congregational Church, Revs. Dale Rosenberger, Benjamin Geeding, MA
Noroton Presbyterian Church, Revs. Greg Doll, Brandi Drake, Gary Morello
St. John’s Catholic Church, Rev. Paul G. Murphy
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rev. Susan Wyper
St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Rev. Paul Murphy
Talmadge Hill Church, Revs. Carter Via, Jennifer McCleery
Trinity Church, Revs. Ben Valentine, Katie Evans, Rico Arocha