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Changing America

by Rev. Amy Shoemaker


I'm back in your inbox! Over the past few months I shared this space with Phillip, our seminary intern, to give him a chance to try out newsletter writing on a weekly basis. Thank you for being a community where ministry students can learn and grow!


I have been searching for the words to describe the week we have just experienced. Unprecedented. Monumental. Exhausting. Frustrating. Terrifying. Shocking. Predictable. These are some of the words I've heard others use.


I watched Tuesday as a Black man and a Jewish man were elected to represent Georgia in the Senate. The next day, I watched white supremacists and neo-Nazis storm the U.S. Capitol carrying confederate flags, wearing t-shirts that referenced WWII Concentration Camps... People who would slap a pink triangle on my arm and throw me in a death camp if they had their way.


I watched Wednesday night as a Senator from Kansas and a Senator from Missouri went against their political comrades and objected to the certification of Electoral College votes based on claims of fraud... Claims that have been denied through due process in courts of law.


In the midst of it all, the one thing I don't feel is surprise. I'm not at all shocked by what happened. Natasha S. Alford, a journalist for The Grio said, "When Black Americans talk about generational trauma and terror, this is what we mean. That energy you see at the Capitol is the same energy that burned down Black towns, lynched Black citizens, and ensured slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation was encoded into American life."


Baked into the foundation of our nation is a deeply human impulse, one more ancient than our own sacred texts: to destroy what is different. As the Declaration of Independence was being written and the American Revolutionary War was being fought, enslaved Africans were being bought and sold as property. The Indigenous people of this land were being slaughtered - their villages, cultures, and legacies erased. We are a nation that has never completely answered one question: Freedom for whom?


At the same time, the newly elected Senator from Georgia, Rev. Raphael Warnock said, "The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else's cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States Senator. The improbable journey that led me to this place in this historic moment in America could only happen here."


This is America. This is the human condition. There is an impulse within each of us to destroy what is different, to reject what we don't understand. The result? Our survival depends on our same-ness.


This is America. This is the human condition. Our need to be loved and cherished in community compels us to build powerful coalitions - so powerful that the arc of our human story can bend toward justice, liberation, peace.


The good news? Change is guaranteed! As individuals and as a collective, it is up to us to shape that change through our own choices and actions.


We get to be loud. We get to call and email our elected officials to make our voices heard. We get to donate to mutual aid funds and justice organizations. We get to shut down the eviction courts. We get to sit down with the Mayor and demand an end to police violence against our houseless neighbors. We get to examine our own impulse to destroy - and redirect that energy toward harmony in our relationships, our interactions, and our communities. We get to share and learn and grow in this brilliant community that is Broadway Church.


I'm so glad you're here.