Sunday, June 28, 2020

Welcome During a Pandemic

June 28, 2020

St. John’s United Church of Christ, Union, Illinois

Matthew 10:40-42[1]

We are a welcoming church. We’re pretty good at it. People who have visited, family and friends, and newer folk who have joined have expressed gratitude for our welcome and hospitality. The position of Greeter is almost a formality, because a guest will see many smiling, helpful folk the moment they come through the doors. Most of the time we have food to share, too.

We are welcoming of all sorts of people. I say a welcome phrase from our denomination almost every week at the beginning of worship: “No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!” We are an Open and Affirming congregation, and we welcome into the full life and ministry of the church persons of every race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, age, physical ability, and economic status.

Some time ago I read a great welcome message from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community. It says, in part:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail, or could afford to lose a few pounds. We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism… We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted.[2]

The list goes on, but you get the gist. Imagine a few members getting together and saying, “Let’s invite everyone to come meet Jesus!” And then they started writing their list. And it got long. Why? Because everyone needs Jesus. And they wanted to make sure everyone knew they were invited.

Why is it important to be welcoming? In practical terms, hospitality grows churches. A cold reception or a side-eye look would send a newcomer down the road to the next place. Authentic, genuine hospitality is the easiest way to show everyone who the church really is and how serious the church is about following the mandate of Jesus to reach out and make disciples. “Welcome to our church. We’re glad you’re here and we look forward to getting to know you. As you learn about us, we hope you’ll travel with us on the journey of faith.”

It is also theologically important to be welcoming. In our scriptures, when we see reference to people who are strangers, the affirmation of God is to welcome, protect, and share with the stranger. God teaches us to identify with the stranger because of the shared experience of God’s people having been strangers themselves. From Deuteronomy: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”[3] And we are called to be welcoming because we have been welcomed. As Paul wrote to the Romans: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”[4]

Welcome is part of our mission as Christians. Jesus said: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”[5] The Mission Statement of the United Church of Christ reads: “United in Spirit and inspired by God’s grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.”[6] The Mission Statement in the Constitution of this congregation includes the phrase: “We seek to include in our joyous venture all who wish to find, learn of, and love our Lord.” Welcome is part of how we live our faith. It helps us fulfill Jesus’ commandment to “love one another.”[7]

Christian hospitality differs from generic friendliness. Hospitality is more than acceptance and affirmation of the presence of the guest. In order to be truly hospitable, we need to understand ourselves and the distinctive nourishment and refreshment we have to offer. We need to be able to demonstrate the core beliefs and values which make us the people that we are, because we are inviting the stranger to become family.

Christian hospitality is not a simple agreement to live-and-let-live, nor is it a relativistic toleration of all ideologies and value-systems that we encounter. We have a unique heritage which has been passed on by our forebears in the faith. We have engaged in careful discernment of what we respect and what we reject. We follow the teachings of Jesus the Christ, to love God, love our neighbor, and even to love our enemy. We reject hatred and violence and evil which harms the children of God. We welcome into our family the same family that Jesus welcomed: “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”[8]

When strangers come through our doors, no matter how similar or different they may be, Christian hospitality requires that we see them as God sees both them and us, as creatures created in the divine image. We must regard both them and us as worthy of love and forgiveness, recipients of the promise of grace, and blessed by the Spirit who extends gifts of mercy, comfort, and peace.[9]

Now, it may be some time yet before we open our doors again to welcome friends and strangers alike. As Illinois has entered Phase 4, Church Council will consider the new guidelines when we meet on July 21st. We will review our Returning to Church Plan and whether we are ready to move to our Phase C. We will need to prepare to welcome in a new way. This is a little bit of what that will look like.

If you have symptoms of COVID, such as a cough, fever, or difficulty breathing, we will ask that you stay home. Those who have been unable to view the live-stream of worship will be invited to return first, if they feel safe to do so. We’ll have to greet one another from a distance and remain spaced apart as we worship. And we’ll have to wear our masks. In order to be truly welcoming, we’ll provide masks, and hand-sanitizer, and guidance on what to do about singing and communion.

Our welcoming will look different, but by showing that we care about the health and safety of others during this pandemic, we will also be showing that we care about the well-being of others after the pandemic. By wearing masks and keeping our distance, we will demonstrate that the hospitality we offer isn’t only a smile and a handshake. We will demonstrate that we value the presence of the stranger, that the guest is as important as family, and that we really mean it when we say, “you’re welcome here.”

As a conclusion, I’d like to offer a blessing for your face masks, so if you have one handy, grab it now. Wearing a face mask during this time is not only a practical consideration, but an act of love. It demonstrates that we care enough about the health of others to protect them from any contagion we may have. This was written by Mary Luti, a professor at the Andover-Newton Theological Seminary. I’ll post this on Facebook if you want to bless your masks on your own later.

Blessing for a Face Mask[10]

God of health and wholeness, of neighbor love and kindness,
bless this mask, my slight shield against great ills:

Bless the fabric that repels the drops, the ties that go behind my ears,
the wire that fits snug against my nose, the folds that cup my chin.
Make me grateful for my mask even when it makes me hot,
even when I look funny in it, even when I’m dying to take it off.

Bless me also, and everyone who for their own and others’ sakes
put on this holy inconvenience every day, our minds made up to love.


[1] The scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

[3] Deuteronomy 10:19.

[4] Romans 15:7.

[5] Matthew 10:40.

[6] Mission Statement of the United Church of Christ, affirmed by the UCC Board of Directors, October 20-22, 2016. From:

[7] John 13:34-35.

[8] Mark 3:35.

[9] Adapted from a letter by The Steering Committee of Confessing Christ, May 2005. From:

[10] Mary Luti, Emerge: Blessings & Rituals for Unsheltering (Pilgrim Press, 2020).

Sunday, June 14, 2020

What Is Home?

June 14, 2020

St. John’s United Church of Christ, Union, Illinois

Genesis 18:1-15; Matthew 9:35 - 10:8

Don Filiberto is a coffee farmer who lives in a small village near Antigua, Guatemala. I met Sr. Filiberto in 2006 when I travelled to Guatemala to work on houses with an organization called “Common Hope.” We came to his house and were welcomed by his family, his wife and eleven children. His wife, Maria, brought us hot chocolate, a delicacy usually reserved for special occasions, and a little bread. As we refreshed ourselves, we looked around us at his house. It is simply built, a rough, flimsy fence of bamboo surrounding the dirt yard. The family cooks over a wood-fire, barbeque-style stove in a shelter of bamboo and corrugated steel.  Their household items were simple and utilitarian, but everything was clean and well kempt.

In the villages around Antigua, the small houses are packed into every available foot of space, climbing the surrounding hills, or filling valleys and ravines. Between the houses, narrow unpaved streets and alley ways wind toward the main streets and the central square. Around us, women and children were carrying food in colorful sacks and water in every imaginable container, mostly on their heads, up and down the hills, back and forth from the communal spigots on the main street. In the center of town was a square where women would come to wash clothes. On the outskirts of Antigua was a market where artisans would sell their crafts and textiles.

Every morning at 4:00 AM, Filiberto climbs for two hours up the side of the mountain, a dormant volcano, to his farm. There he tends his crops of corn, black beans, avocados, and coffee. He has three mules to help carry things up and down the mountain. We hiked up with him to the farm where we ate lunch. His daughter, Monica, took flour, kneaded it, and made tortillas over an open fire. We ate them with black beans and guacamole made fresh. Don Filiberto stood by us under the trees as we ate and told us his story – how he survived the 30-year civil war and the steps it takes to grow and process coffee.

During this experience in Guatemala, I was struck by how welcoming the families were of my group of tall, pale United States-ians. And I remember thinking how similar life there is now to life for most people in biblical times.

As we read about Abraham, the great patriarch, we discover that he lived, not in a palace, or even in a modest house. At first, the Hebrews were a nomadic people, wandering from place to place, following their herds, and living in tents. Abraham, sitting in his tent by the oaks of Mamre, greets three people traveling in the heat of the day. This story shows us several things. It begins the tale of God’s promise to Abraham to make him the “father of many nations.” It gives us a glimpse of Abraham’s home – a simple tent. And it shows us the importance of hospitality to the Hebrew people.

After the Hebrews fled from Egypt and wandered in the wilderness for forty years, probably living in tents as Abraham had, they settled in Canaan. Their first villages were makeshift settlements. They built rough, flimsy dwellings of unfitted stones. The Hebrews used large goatskin bags or rough earthenware crocks to carry water and grain. Their household tools and implements were strictly utilitarian, and they had only coarse reed mats or woven rugs for furniture.  Though they lived in an area of the world that would be conquered repeatedly, they had been given some rules about welcoming people. Deuteronomy 10:19 reads: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Most people in Solomon’s time lived working the land. Six days out of seven they went at sunrise into the surrounding fields, returning to their houses at dusk to a family meal and an early bedtime. Inside a city’s walls, every available foot of space was used for housing. The marketplaces were jammed with caravans, farmers selling their surplus crops, and local artisans displaying their products.

In the time of Jesus, the Jews of Galilee were still essentially a rural people. The great majority lived in hundreds of small towns and villages scattered throughout the countryside. A small village might claim several hundred inhabitants who lived in modest, one-story houses of mudbrick clustered together on the side of a hill. Between the houses, narrow unpaved streets and alley ways wound toward a dusty square at the center of town. There women came daily to shop in the open-air market, wash clothes, and to draw water from the communal well.

These similarities between the lives of people in the bible and the lives of poor people living in Guatemala today are interesting, but they go deeper than just their living conditions. There are similarities in the way they, and we, understand home.

When I say that something is a “blessing”, what do you think of? Some of the most simple of blessings – cold water, hot soup, a warm fire, a cool breeze, friendship, love, and laughter – are things that people all over the world in every time would consider to be blessings. People coming together to share the food that they have been growing, inviting family and friends to your house for a meal, these are blessings too.

When I think of the word house, I think of four walls, a sturdy roof, a table, chairs, beds, maybe a couch. The house is where you eat food, sleep, and store your things. But, what about home?

In Guatemala I heard someone remark that “My home is the people, my family.” It is the people that live in the house that make it a home. It is the love, the tears and laughter shared, the lessons learned, and memories treasured that make a home. It is songs and stories, and good things by loving hands prepared. It is the promise of children and the devotion of parents. It is prayer and giving thanks for our blessings that makes a house a home. Home is where you are always welcome, and where the people are always glad to see you.

The thing that touched me most deeply in Guatemala was what I saw in the faces of the people we met. They had faith – faith in themselves, in education, and in God’s protection. They had hope – hope for a better future for their children. They had joy – a smile and laughter can communicate across any language barrier. And they had love – a love for one another, for their families, of their community, and enough love to welcome a group of eight strange gringos.

The Spirit of God was present in their lives, visible in their smiles, drifting in the smoky air. God was dwelling with them, helping them to survive, to struggle along one day to the next, and not despair, not lose hope, not give up on love.

One of the names that we have for Jesus is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” Abraham, living in a tent by the oaks of Mamre, looked forward to a home that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. John’s Revelation dreams of a day when God will make a home among mortals.

My friends, God came to live as a human being, to walk among us, so that we might understand our common humanity, know our common parent, and seek for justice for all of God’s people. God already dwells with us. God dwelt with Abraham and Sarah, with James and John, with Mary and Martha. God dwells now with the people in Guatemala. God dwells with us in our world, in our homes, and in our hearts.

In the simple blessings of our lives God binds us together. The blessings of home are the same for all of us, people in Guatemala, people in the United States, even people in biblical times. We all share the blessings that make a house a home. We are all children of a common parent; we all have faith, hope, love, and joy in our lives. We are bound together with ties of love. God is with us; God is with all of us. Let us welcome God into our homes, let us thank God for our blessings, let us seek for God in the faces of all people, and struggle together for a better future, for that new Jerusalem, the city of God, where all of God’s people will be greeted with the words “Welcome home!”

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Un-Healed Wound

June 7, 2020

St. John’s United Church of Christ, Union, Illinois

Audio Link

Genesis 1:26-31; Matthew 28:16-20[1]

In the passage from Genesis we get the beginning. People were created, male and female, in the image of God they were created, and they were good. Then, they were disobedient. God sent them out of the garden; sweat and pain would be their daily experience. They had a couple of kids, and then one murdered the other. Now, whether or not you believe this is how the earth and stars and everything were formed, Genesis has a lot to teach us about human nature.

We have struggled from the beginning with morality, the discernment between good and evil. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we get it wrong, but we believe that over the long run we are getting better. But are we? Long after Moses led the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land, good, God-fearing people used the bible to justify slavery in America. People still use the sacred texts as weapons against those deemed unworthy of the love of God.

Jesus sent them to make disciples of all nations. Not to conquer all nations. Not to force people into submission. Not to demand obedience to a particular set of rules. To baptize and to teach. To teach love, compassion, grace. Who sent them? The Prince of Peace, the one whose body was broken and blood was shed so that the grace of God would rain down like an ever-flowing stream. The one who commanded “Love one another as I have loved you.”[2]

Have we loved one another? Have white Christians really loved their black neighbors as themselves? Growing up in Denver I rode the bus to George Washington High School. As a white student, I was in the minority there. I had friends who were African-American, Latino, Asian, and white. I considered myself to be “blind” to a person’s race. When I moved to Chicago to begin seminary, my eyes were opened a bit more. By learning from the experiences of my classmates I began to see the world through the lens of the black experience.

And I have continued to learn. Among other things, I have learned that it is not enough to be color-blind. Not seeing race prevents you from seeing the persistence of racism, which has become more covert and subtle over time.[3] It is important to see how race plays a significant role in the life-experience of non-white people. It is important to notice how others respond when a black person enters the store, or the restaurant, or the classroom. It is vital to understand that I do not have the same experience as someone who is black, even if we have a similar background, and experience the same event.

I have what is called “white privilege.” Now, hear me out. White privilege does not mean you have it easy, that nothing in your life is hard, that everything is handed to you. What white privilege means is that no matter how difficult your life may be, the color of your skin is not one of the things making it difficult. It means that the likelihood of my being assaulted, arrested, or killed is not greater simply because of the color of my skin.

I also want to explain what is meant by “Black Lives Matter.” If you’re tempted to say “All Lives Matter,” you’re missing the point. Of course, all lives matter. But not all people are being killed by police at the same rate.[4] In Luke, chapter 15, we hear the parable of the lost sheep.[5] There are 100 sheep, but one goes missing. The shepherd leaves the 99 and goes after the one. The 99 say “But... what about us? Don’t we matter?” Of course the 99 still matter! But they’re not the ones in danger. The one is. There is a comic about black lives matter that I hope is helpful. I will post it on the church Facebook page after worship today. Check it out.

So, it has been a disturbing week. It has been 13 days since the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Since that event, protests against police brutality and discrimination have seen thousands gather in cities in every state and in many countries around the world. Sadly, some of these protests which began with peaceful demonstrations[6] have escalated into violence. Police in riot gear have used pepper spray, rubber bullets, and tear gas against protesters. Cars and buildings have burned. Store windows have been smashed. Protesters and police have been hurt.[7]

I have seen verified videos, photos, and stories of cruelty perpetrated by police[8] against peaceful protesters of all descriptions,[9] journalists,[10] trapped crowds,[11] people standing on their own porch,[12] and even elected officials. I have seen buildings vandalized, looters running off with stolen goods, and rioters battling with police. I have seen white nationalists and other anarchists trying to use the protests to incite violence and make people think that black protesters are to blame for rioting and looting.[13] I have also seen police taking a knee with protesters, march along with them, and pledge to change.[14] I have seen police trying to do the right thing, to protect people and property, while they and their families are subjected to hatred.[15] I have seen protesters protecting the police.

I say verified, because I have done my best to research the source of all the things I have seen and shared on my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and I have removed items that have been shown to be hoaxes, Photo Shopped, or that mis-identify place and time. This sermon is probably the most heavily sourced sermon I have written, and if you would like to review my materials, I invite you to visit the church website – – and click on the “Sermons” link next to my picture.

There is an un-healed wound in our nation. How may nails have been pounded into the fence boards of black America? How slowly and painfully, and how few, have been pulled out, leaving behind the scars of violence? Racism and violence against people of color, and people of African descent in particular, has been part of American culture for over 400 years. In late August of 1619 “a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years.”[16] 250 years of inhuman and immoral treatment of black Americans.

The Declaration of Independence[17] declared the self-evident truth “that all men are created equal.” Yet many of the signers owned slaves, and the idea that slaves were neither free nor equal was not a contradiction in their minds.[18] The equality they declared was equality with the lords and royals of England, not with the poor, the minorities, or the Indians. This inequality was formalized by the Constitution, which defined slaves as 3/5ths of a person.[19]

The end of the Civil War brought the Emancipation Proclamation. Ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, and the 14th Amendment established citizenship of all persons and the right to due process and equal protection of the laws. Yet the Jim Crow laws[20] enforced racial segregation and disenfranchised and removed political and economic gains made by blacks during the Reconstruction period. “Separate but Equal” racial segregation meant that facilities for African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to the facilities for white Americans; sometimes, there were no facilities for blacks at all. Laws were passed making voter registration and electoral rules more restrictive.[21] Poll taxes and literacy requirements disenfranchised most poor, uneducated blacks.

Following the Second World War, while white soldiers returned home to a hero’s welcome, black soldiers faced continuing oppression, segregation, and violence. In 1946, following his honorable discharge and while still wearing his U.S. Army uniform, decorated World War II veteran Isaac Woodard was beaten and blinded by police as he was taking the bus home.[22]

The Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s showed for the first time on television the violent tactics used by police against black protesters. In Birmingham, Alabama, the Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Connor, “unleashed billy clubs, police dogs, and high-pressure water hoses to disperse and punish the young demonstrators with a brutality that horrified the nation.”[23] Church bombings and assassinations took the lives of many activists and innocents alike. Passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a powerful affirmation of equal rights, would bring an end to Jim Crow laws, but it would not bring an end to violence and discrimination against African Americans.

Some Americans saw the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States as a sign that the nation had entered a new, post-racial era.[24] Yet, the rise of the Tea Party, the “alt-right”, and white nationalist groups show that American society continues to experience high levels of racism and discrimination.[25]

So, why now? Why are people around the world, and in all 50 states, demonstrating now? Police use of excessive force is not a new problem. Police killing and terrorizing people of color is not a new problem. That’s precisely the point: it is still happening.

Rodney King was violently beaten by LAPD officers during his arrest in 1991, and nothing changed. In the last week, LA police have used batons and rubber bullets against unarmed, peaceful protesters, to the point that Police Chief Michel Moore expressed concern about the incidents on Friday.[26]

Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The grand jury decided not to indict the officer on criminal charges.[27] Freddie Gray of Baltimore died from injuries sustained while in police custody in 2015. No officers were held criminally responsible for Gray's death.[28] In 2016, Philando Castile was stopped by police while driving and fatally shot. The police officer was acquitted of all charges.[29]

Two months ago, Breonna Taylor, of Louisville, Kentucky, was shot eight times by police when police broke down the door to her apartment in an attempted drug sting, and shot her in her bed. They were at the wrong house, and the suspect had already been detained. The police officers involved have not been fired and no charges have been filed.[30]

One recent development, which makes these protests a bit different is that we all have internet-connected video cameras. We would not know about many of the atrocities taking place right now if we weren’t seeing them for ourselves through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts. We know what happened to George Floyd because we saw it happen. We know about the heavy-handed and sometimes cruel response of the police because we’re watching it happen.

Right now, we are witnessing the reality of deeply-rooted racist structures, the reality that Black people and other communities of color face every single day. “As those in the streets cry out for justice, we cannot pretend we are dealing with a new or unique issue. These are conversations we’ve had, these are familiar wounds, these are sins we continue to shelter and nurture.”[31] Will we change this time? It is not enough to not be racist. The times in which we live demand that we become anti-racist.

It will take hard work to bind up the wounds of centuries of injustice. Anti-racism will require years of effort to continue learning, acting, and speaking out against racism beyond these moments. It will require learning how to de-fuse rather than escalate tension between protesters and police. It will require holding police accountable to a higher standard. It will take political will to examine and modify police policies, practices, and culture. And we have to Stop. Killing. Black. People.

It’s not just an issue with the police. Systemic racism is built into all of our American institutions—health care, housing, employment, education, and more. It’s why the coronavirus is disproportionately killing Black Americans who comprise more of our “essential” workforce, working in warehouses, delivery services, and as janitors.[32] The work of anti-racism requires solving systemic issues that cause poverty, crime, and violence.

These issues can be solved. The wound can be healed. And we can do the work of healing because we are disciples of Jesus. More than anything else he did, in all of his recorded deeds, Jesus healed. Jesus healed the sick. Jesus healed the lame. Jesus healed the mute, the blind, and the paralyzed. Jesus healed the hemorrhage, the withered hand, the lepers, and the demon-possessed. Jesus healed every disease, and every sickness. Jesus even healed the dead! But Jesus was not the only one who healed.

In the middle of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus entrusts the disciples with this amazing power. “Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.”[33] They were sent out to heal the lost sheep of Israel. These twelve rather ordinary people were sent out with the authority of Jesus to heal. And at the end of the story they were sent out again, the eleven who remained, and some doubted. But even the doubters were not considered to be less worthy of the Great Commission. They were all sent to make disciples of all nations, to baptize, to teach, and to heal the wounds of life.

We have holy work to do. You and I are called to heal the wound of racism, because we bear the image of God. We have the vision to see that likeness in every black person, in every white police officer, and in every mask-wearing protester. We have the power to welcome and love people no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey. And we are not alone. There are millions of people who share this goal. There are people around the world who are ready for repentance, healing, and change. Together, we are the body of Christ, the healer of the world, and Christ is with us always.


[1] The scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[2] John 13:34, paraphrased.

[3] Adia Harvey Wingfield, “Color-Blindness Is Counterproductive” September 13, 2015 in The Atlantic, posted on:

[4] "Minneapolis Police Use Force Against Black People at 7 Times the Rate of Whites," The New York Times, June 3, 2020

[5] Luke 15:3-6, paraphrased.

[6] Adam Parkhomenko, McLean, VA, June 3: “Washington, DC right now. Please watch and retweet.”

[7] In St Louis, four police officers were struck by gunfire. An officer in Las Vegas was also shot. And at least nine people have reportedly been killed in violence related to the protests.

Excerpts taken from “De-escalation Keeps Protesters and Police Safer. Departments Respond with Force Anyway” by Maggie Koerth and Jamiles Lartey, published Jun. 1, 2020 online at

[8] Police smashing and taking bottled water left in a park for protesters, posted by Natalie Alund, May 30:

Nick in Erie, PA, May 30: “A girl here was peacefully protesting, after 15 minutes she was maced and kicked.”

[9] Amanda Williams, who lives in Columbus, OH, posted on June 1: “As CPD told us to stay off the street, they continuously forced their way on to the side walks with horses, forcing us to go in the street. We heard cries and screams down the street and saw that CPD began spraying.”

Timothy Burke, May 30: “Salt Lake City cops shove down an elderly man with a cane for the crime of standing along the street.”

Rob Bennett, May 30: NYPD drive into a crowd of protesters.

Overhead view of the same incident:

CBS News, posted May 30 by Kevin Cottrell Jr., Atlanta, GA: Police pull students from car using tasers.

Same incident, different angle, posted by Brittany Miller, May 31. Note the white woman waving in the car ahead of them.

Same incident followed up on ABC News, June 2: “6 Atlanta police officers charged in forceful arrests of college students in car”

The Washington Post, June 1, “Inside the push to tear-gas protesters ahead of a Trump photo op.”

Rev. Dr. Emily C. Heath, Exeter, NH, June 1, “Rev. Rob Fisher is the Rector of #StJohnsChurch. His best friend from seminary, Rev. Kurt Shaffert, posted this on my FB and asked me to tweet it:”

More from Rev. Heath: “For full transparency, here’s the conversation with the Rector’s seminary friend. I cut out responses from other FB friends that weren’t relevant. I don’t know the Rector but have no reason to believe his friend isn’t correct:”

Brett McGurk, Foreign Affairs Analyst @NBCNews, Palo Alto, CA, June 1: “Here’s how this scene was viewed live in Australia. One of America’s closest and most dependable allies. Rendered speechless. Just watch.”

[10] Michael Anthony Adams, New York, NY, Vice News, May 31 “Watch VICE reporter @MichaelAdams317 plea ‘I’m Press! Press! Press!’ as he's thrown to the ground, beaten, and pepper-sprayed directly in the face.”

Fontaine Carpenter, May 31: “Journalists targeted/attacked by police:”

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, LA Times, Houston, TX, May 30: “Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range.”

[11] Rome Cease, Philadelphia, PA, June 1, “Vine St. Expressway, Philly. THEY ARE LITERALLY TRAPPED.”

[12] Tanya Kerssen, May 30: “National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling ‘light em up!’”

[13] Holly Dutton, a student of Pastoral Counseling at Wartburg Theological Seminary, posted this on May 30 from her friend Jeff Forester who lives in Uptown Minneapolis: “There are roving and highly organized bands of anti-government neo-nazi white men cruising the city, breaking off plywood, looting stores, and then setting them fire to the buildings.”

My cousin, Melodye, who lives in Fremont, CA, wrote on my Facebook page June 1: “We are having lots of demonstrations in the San Francisco Bay Area as well, and the violence and looting going on as well are either from out-of-towners or troublemakers who just want to steal from stores.”

The Rev. Jane McBride, a pastor at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC, in Minneapolis, posted on June 1: “Jen and I awoke to siren after siren, and message after message: armed white supremacists were being spotted everywhere. Neighbors were finding gas cans in the bushes all around our neighborhood… these events are happening miles and miles away from any protest.”

Trevor Noah, May 30: “We’ve seen this in South Africa before. Beware of agitators and instigators who use legitimate protests to ignite chaos between protesters and police.”

Seth Abramson, May 30: “It's now confirmed by state officials in Minnesota and countless media organizations that much of what's happening in certain cities is the work of outside agitators with anarchistic or far-right agendas and no interest in peacefully protesting police brutality.”

TGIB, Chicago, IL, May 31, “This white man had a gun to me and my friends face. He was not w/ the police he was just out here instigating. If he had been black he would have been thrown to the ground arrrested and beaten. But he was peacefully tuned away. Because he’s white.”

Jeremy Jojola, Investigative Reporter at @9NEWS, Denver, CO, June 1, “JUST CONFIRMED: Denver Police seized these guns and tactical gear from two men who showed up to the protest on Friday. One of them, Chevy McGee, tells me he didn't break any laws. McGee is part of the ‘Boogaloo’ movement.”

SatelliteHeart, June 5: “Police officer tells Proud Boys to hide inside building because they're about to tear gas protesters. The officer said he was warning them ‘discretely’ because he didnt want protesters to see police ‘play favorites.’”

[14] Tracey Maylor, May 31, Sheriff interacting with protesters.

[15] A friend, Trevor Davis, Denver, CO, June 2: “Now some punks began to follow my wife yelling f the police and saying f my daughter's hoping they die and hoping I die.”

[16] “Why We Published the 1619 Project” December 20, 2019 by Jake Silverstein in the New York Times:

[18] Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975). Referenced in Heather Cox Richardson, How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight for the Soul of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), 13.

[21] Michael Perman, Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888–1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, Introduction. Also, J. Morgan Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.

[24] “Dobbs calls on listeners to rise above ‘partisan and racial element that dominates politics.’” Media Matters for America. November 12, 2009.

[25] Lozada, Carlos (November 3, 2017). "Where the alt-right wants to take America — with or without Trump". Washington Post.

[31] Introduction to “How Long, O Lord? Essays and Resources Addressing Racism” published June 4, 2020 by Ministry Matters."

[32] “'We're expendable': black Americans pay the price as states lift lockdowns” May 25 in The Guardian:

[33] Matthew 10:1.