Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Hello ABC family!
I want to let you know about an emergency meeting that the Fort Collins Clergy and the Fort Collins Interfaith Council had on Monday. This meeting was called in response to a speaker who will be at CSU this Friday. He is supported by a designated “hate group,” as well as another white supremacist group—both of whom will be present this Friday at the CSU campus.
We decided it would be best to organize a celebration of Fort Collins and its diversity, from 4:00-5:00 PM on Friday, February 2nd. The gathering is open to everyone—if you are clergy, you may wear vestments as you wish. It will be on the lawn between Plymouth UCC and the Islamic Center on Lake Street. There will be prayers representing different faith traditions in Fort Collins, speakers, and music. Parking is available in the Plymouth parking lot, and other designated areas. Car-pooling is a good idea. If you want to bring signs, we only ask that they carry a message of positivity and hope. This is a celebration, not a protest.
Some churches around the campus are putting up special signage, adopting the slogan: “We are United, We are Diverse, We are Fort Collins.” Since we are Baptist and like to do our own thing (and since we don’t have time to call a proper vote), we will have something more general – about God’s Love, perhaps.
Why should we be interested in this? To some of you, it may feel political. To others, it may reach too far beyond your comfort zone. I understand this. As American Baptists, we are all over the map when it comes to theology, politics, and even certain ideas regarding morality. But we are also deeply rooted in the concept of freedom—freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of mind and body. We have been leaders in various civil rights movements—splitting between Northern Baptists and Southern Baptists in 1845 over the rights of clergy to own slaves, among other issues. We are the denomination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and have been leaders in the civil rights movement. And Baptists, because of our resonance with “soul freedom,” were even known to help African Slaves practice their religious freedom—which often included Islam.
American Baptists have in the core of their being the call to “Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed, take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)
Wherever you are on the spectrum of ideas, there is something you can do to follow this call. If you are not comfortable with attending the rally, maybe pay special attention these next few weeks to those you know who may be vulnerable, who may even feel afraid because of the message of hate these groups proclaim. Maybe check in with them, give a listening ear, help them feel a sense of safety. Be curious about what it might be like to live their experience. And be curious about what it might be like to live as the Rev. Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.”
Please share with me with any thoughts or concerns you have, as we walk this journey together. Alone we can do little, but together, as the Body of Christ, we can Love the whole world.
May the peace that passes all understanding be with you today, and every day.
Reverend Kimberly Salico-Diehl
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
If you wish to read more on American Baptists and Civil rights, click on this article from the Baptist News Global. https://baptistnews.com/article/statement-applauds-american-baptists-contributions-to-civil-rights/#.WnE_aainFPY