First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Dear friends,

We have been rocked by the news of the past 24 hours regarding events in Ferguson MO. So much has been written about the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in August, and the demonstrations and violence and witness events that followed.

Many of us are heartbroken over the seeming failure of our justice system in not indicting the man who shot an unarmed teenager and killed him. But the "system" worked, as it often does, in a way that seems unjust - if not in actuality, certainly in spirit.

Yet this is more than a "case" in the justice system... it is about a life cut short. It is about a culture that values some lives over others. It is about race and equality and inclusion. There are a lot of eloquent, poignant and pointed things being said by many people in response to the news out of Ferguson. I don't have much else to add.

I see this as a political crisis, to be sure. But it is a spiritual one as well. I feel certain that things would have been different if Michael Brown hadn't been a young man of color - very different. So we are called to face this moment. Our responses will be political - working to, as Jim Wallis said, "right the unacceptable wrong of black lives being worth less than white lives in our criminal justice system."

And our response will be spiritual in how we live our principles and act in faith to work, in solidarity, for the rights and lives of others. Michael Brown, and too many others that share a similar skin-color and tragic fate, cannot have died in vain.

As we pause and give thanks over this holiday weekend, remember that gratitude calls us to truly set a "welcome table" that becomes ever-more expansive. As we "count our blessings" in the face of this great sorrow, we will vow that that these blessings of liberty, peace and justice are meant for every one of us, everywhere.

First Unitarian's sponsored Ministerial Student Ranwa Hammamy has written an elegant and inspiring reflection. Please read it here... and let us find new ways to work together in our congregation and in the wider community to end this sorrow and this injustice.

in the faith, with hope and love,

Rev. Susan

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