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Local Pastors and Members of the CTS Community Form Clergy Coalition for Racial Justice

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As protests and demonstrations for racial justice continue across the country and here in Indianapolis, local clergy and members of the CTS community are finding ways to resource the movement. Joining the calls for reform and substantive changes in law and policy, religious leaders are helping to organize and offer support for activists working tirelessly for justice.

Last month, our dean, Dr. Leah Gunning-Francis, in partnership with Faith In Indiana organized a Processional for Racial Justice, in which many CTS alumni, faculty and staff played a pivotal role. As leadership is so very crucial during this time, we were also honored that CTS president, Dr. David Mellott, stood side by side with the community. Many shared in a “die-in” moment for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, a poignant visual of George Floyd’s struggle for life.

As this is a movement and not just a moment, great effort is being made to ensure voices do not cease until we see a radical racial paradigm shift in our country. One such group providing support to those on the front lines is the Faith Aid Support Team (FAST). Centered downtown at Christ Church Cathedral, FAST is a diverse group of clergy who have come together to create a safe place for assistance, spiritual renewal, and respite for those on the front lines seeking justice. The mission is to use the holy space around the church and provide an interfaith resource in solidarity with those leading the protests.

Rev. Patrick Burke of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church shared that the impetus for the group emerged as a result of long-term relationships that developed while at CTS. With Dean Gunning-Francis on the leadership team, the group has been able to glean from her knowledge of the movement in Ferguson, MO, and what interested clergy could do to support the movement here in Indianapolis.

The group consists of faith leaders from Episcopal, Disciples of Christ, AME and United Methodist church affiliations. The group also represents racial diversity. However, Rev. Burke acknowledges that as white clergy it was important there was no attempt to dictate the narrative of the movement but rather to come alongside and amplify the voice of a movement primarily led by the African American community.

The clergy members have been working side by side with medical teams and providing pastoral care to the protesters, with both medics and protesters sharing some of the traumatic events they themselves have experienced as they fight for justice.

Reflecting on their efforts, Rev. Burke shared: “As a fairly new white pastor, this has fundamentally changed me in a very short period of time. Being a part of this group and learning from Dr. Gunning-Francis’ leadership has been the single most incredible experience of ministry I’ve had thus far”.



Also included in the July 2020 Christian Theological Seminary Connection

 

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