Over the last two weeks, five Black churches in St. Louis County, Missouri have been attacked in incidents of arson. Luckily no one has been physically hurt but these terrifying and violent instances of backlash affirm the urgent need to show up and take action for racial justice today. UU Ministers have written the following letter to the members and friends of the impacted congregations. Click here to add your name and your own message of solidarity. The Standing on the Side of Love Campaign is in touch with UU ministers in the St. Louis area and will keep you updated with additional ways to support.
To the Beloved Members and Friends of Bethel Non-Denominational Church, New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, St. Augustine Catholic Church, New Testament Church of Christ, Ebenezer Lutheran Church and New Life Missionary Baptist Church:
We, the ministers of the Bi-State Unitarian Universalist Ministers Society, serving congregations and communities in Missouri and Illinois, are heartsick and heart broken at the profound violation of your houses of worship in the past week. We have seen the pictures of your damaged buildings, scarred with the hatred of those who seek to terrorize you. We can only imagine the fear and anger this has brought to your communities. Please accept our sincerest condolences.
We know that for generations Black churches have been targets of such acts of terror. From the burning of Emanuel Methodist Episcopal Church in 1822, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963, the rash of church fires that followed the mass shooting at Emanuel AME this past June, in addition to hundreds of others throughout the United States, these are intentional acts of racial violence meant to violate, intimidate, diminish and overpower.
But God is good and the House of God cannot be diminished by the cowardice of racism. The Church cannot be broken by the flames of hatred. Instead, our hearts burn with the power of a love beyond imagining that is greater than any act of hatred. Our shared faith and commitment to the power of love will bend the arc of the universe towards justice. When we join hands and hearts and spirits we will enter the promise of a new time, a time of unity and justice, with dignity and worth for all. We yearn for that time and wish to offer our energy, our love and our heartfelt commitment towards its realization.
We stand with you. We offer you are hearts, hands and minds. We offer you the moral power of our religious communities, standing on the side of love. Please do not hesitate to come to us if you are in need. You are not alone.
Yours in faith,
Rev. Roger Bertschausen, St. Louis, MO
Dawn Fortune, Interim Minister, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel, Ellisville, MO.
The Rev. Barbara H. Gadon, Lead Minister, Eliot Unitarian Chapel, Kirkwood, MO
Kimberly Hampton, Ministerial Candidate, St. Louis, MO
Rev. Dr. Michael Hennon, Minister of Pastoral Care, Eliot Unitarian Chapel, Kirkwood, MO
Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, MO
Brian Mason, Lewis Ministerial Intern, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, MO
Rev. Dottie Mathews, Retired, Columbia, MO
Rev. Thomas Perchlik, First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, MO
Rev. Sarah C. Richards, Minister, Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, Carbondale, IL
Rev. William Sasso, Retired, Carbondale, IL
Rev. Krista Taves, Minister, Unitarian Church of Quincy, IL
Rev. Julie Taylor, Unitarian Universalist Community Minister
Rev. George Tyger, St. Robert, MO
Rev. Sunshine Wolfe, Interim Minister, First Unitarian Church of Alton, IL
Rev. Martin Woulfe, Minister, Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Springfield, IL