April 2, 2018
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Rally to End Racism, April 4 in DC

Want to join our bus journey for justiceĀ­?
Sign up by noon Tuesday, April 3

Our Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) invites Eastern PA Conference members, families and friends to join a one-day freedom and fellowship ride to the nation's capital on Wednesday, April 4, to rally against the scourge of racism in America. With 36 registered so far, there are still 11 seats open on the 47-passenger bus. But if you want to join us, you must register by the deadline of Tuesday, April 3 at 12 noon.  So please  sign up today.

The Klein Transportation bus will first depart with registered passengers at 4:45 AM from Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, PA, in the Reading area. More passengers--including Bishop Peggy Johnson and other Cabinet members--will board at the Eastern PA Conference Office at 5:50 AM; and others will join them at 7 AM at the at  Delaware House Travel Plaza in Newark, Del., along I-95. The bus should arrive near the National Mall in Washington, DC, by about 9:30 AM, traffic permitting, for riders to join the rally there.

The ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism Rally begins with a silent, interfaith prayer walk from the nearby MLK Jr. Memorial to the Mall at 7 AM. An interfaith worship service will happen at 8, and the rally and "call to commitment" will follow from 9 to 4. Our bus will return that evening. See the information and registration page for more details.

The rally is part of the ecumenical National Council of Churches' Truth and Racial Justice Initiative. The full event, including public worship and witnessing, happens in Washington, D.C., April 3-5, when the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4, 1968). "We will commit to do our part to eradicate the entrenched racism that grips the United States and paralyzes our ability to see every human being as equal," say event organizers.

The Lehigh Valley Conference of Churches has 40 riders registered so far for its bus to the April 4 rally. They hope to gain 15 more.  For more info visit  www.lehighchurches.org.

Several lay and clergy members reflected for us on their reasons for going on this journey to rally against racism:

Janet A Mills, Janes Memorial UMC Philadelphia:

Race is defined by Merriam-Webster's Dictionary as a difference among peoples in their physical characteristics. Yet, our world for more than five centuries learned to discriminate and marginalize based on unchangeable DNA. My living room wall displays a photo of 19th-century Philadelphia civil rights leader, Octavius V. Catto who merely wanted free elections for all people. Brother Catto lost his life in 1871 for his passion for human rights. If I, in this small measure, can carry on one his legacies; I shall do so!

The Rev. Deborah Tanksley-Brown (Deacon), Church of the Open Door, Kennett Square :

I remember watching TV as a very young person, as the "freedom riders" boarded buses headed for "battlefields" in the South. I remember watching the multitudes gathered in Washington and the tent cities. Now 50-plus years later, I am preparing to board the bus, to take a seat and a place in line with other freedom riders and justice seekers. I will be joining with the thousands who went before me, who were willing to stand in unity and demonstrate with the choir of saints that "We may be persecuted, but we are not crushed." And "still we rise" to resist and persist until the fullness of peace (shalom) prevails.

The Andrea Brown, Grandview UMC Lancaster:

When I have participated in marches in the past, it has been powerfully encouraging to me to see, hear, and feel the presence of people of faith and especially Christians making a stand for what we believe.

Once, while marching in a protest to the Iraq War, I saw a woman wearing the second baptismal question on her T-shirt: "Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?" That question has gained more authority and substance for me because of her witness against the evils of war. So, I want us to be part of making a witness to other Christians and to those who don't know Christians as justice-seeking people.

I'm tremendously grateful for the "Healing the Wounds of Racism" experience I had in our conference. It was transformational for me in the truest spiritual meaning of that word. Joining with others to do anti-racism work is one of the fruits of that experience of repentance and grace in my life.

If I could add an epistle to our Bible, it would be Rev. Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Reading this letter at least once a year is a key spiritual practice for me. It convicts me. My life is different because of his life and his writings. Participating in this march on the 50th anniversary of his death feels like one way of honoring that, as well as the work of others in the civil rights movement, which has made our nation better and still shows us what needs to be done.
Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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