Holy Trinity’s next opportunity to provide breakfast at First English Lutheran Church is Sunday, September 25. We serve biscuits and gravy, eggs, fresh fruit, and a breakfast pastry to 150+ people. If you’d like to contribute or serve, please signup at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080948AAAD28A57-first26. We can also use shelf-stable items for the Blessings Box. All items should be delivered to Holy Trinity by 8 am on Sunday, September 25 for transport to FELC or you can drop them off to the Warnements’ home, Becky’s office at Coldwell Banker (3164 Kingsdale Center), or bring your donation directly to First English, 1015 E. Main Street by 8:30 am on the 25th. Please contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff at email@example.com with questions. Thanks!
Holy Trinity folks will be serving dinner at the Y-Family Center on Saturday, October 1st. We are limited on the number of adults that can be used in the kitchen. We serve dinners at 6, 7, and 8 o’clock. We need two extra adults to help with serving and clean up from around 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Please call or text Chris Pryor if you are available to assist us.
The Racial Justice team is pleased to announce our first annual Bronzeville Tour on Sunday, October 23 from 2-4 PM. Where is Bronzeville, you ask? It’s the historically Black district of Columbus, mainly centered in the King-Lincoln district. Our tour guide will be Rita Fuller-Yates, a Speaker, Author, Historian, and Community Activist who has published a book about the history of the Black Community in Columbus. After the tour, we’ll take some time for fellowship and debriefing at a restaurant in the area.
Thanks to the Endowment grant, this tour will be free. More information about sign-up will be coming soon. We hope you will join us! For more information, contact Sharon Hamersley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 15, 2022
Posted by: Laura Hudson
Posted In: Empower
WELCA (Women of the ELCA) groups at Holy Trinity collected health care items and school supplies to be shared with people in need around the world. The women packed eight boxes containing a total of 34 health kits and 26 school kits that will be transported to Lutheran World Relief on October 6. Thanks to all who donated!
(Letter 8 by Fred Burton)
In previous letters, I’ve written about our travels to Memphis, Selma, and Montgomery. After a couple of days in Montgomery, we drove the short 90-minute drive on I-65N to our last stop…Birmingham. In the 1960s, Birmingham’s population was made up of about 60% White and 40% Black. For me, the 1960s doesn’t seem that long ago and still seems familiar in a lot of ways. However, it still surprises me to remember that during that same time period a majority of African Americans could not vote…or try clothes on in stores…or go to “whites only gas stations”…Birmingham was known back then as “The Most Segregated City in America.”
We talked to some residents who still remember and refer to their city as “Bombingham” because of the 50 or so dynamiteexplosions that occurred there between 1947 and 1965. Bombs set off by White people who were angry that some neighborhoods were starting to become integrated.
All of these bombings were tragic, but none really hurt our hearts more than the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church where four little girls were killed on September 15, 1963 by a bomb set off by the Ku Klux Klan. We stood looking up from the church steps right by where the bomb went off. It just didn’t seem possible that someone would have enough hate in their hearts to bomb a church. We stood there quietly for a while and then crossed the street to Kelly Ingram Park. This is a four-acre park that honors the Civil Rights Movement and struggle in Birmingham and includes one sculpture that remembers those four girls (see photos below).
In this letter, there is simply no way to cover all there is to see in Birmingham. Museums, parks, murals, churches, and historic homes all have their own “civil rights story” to tell. Places like…Dynamite Hill. Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute. Bethel Baptist Church. Birmingham Jail where MLK Jr. wrote his famous “Letter from the Birmingham Jail” in which he wrote “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justiceeverywhere.” Rickwood Baseball Field, which hosted a minor league White team as well as a Negro League team as their games were played on alternate weekends and where more than 100 Hall of Famers played (e.g. Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Satchell Paige, and Jackie Robinson).
Birmingham is just thick with Civil Rights history. It’s also home to some great rib smoke houses and soul food joints as well. But don’t get me started on the great food we ate on this trip!
As interesting, informative and inspiring as these sites are, we continued to push ourselves to meet people and to hear their stories. And that’s how we ended up attending a service at Birmingham’s Sixth Street Baptist Church.
Some background: I knew that we were ending our trip on Sunday and really wanted to bring our journey to a close by worshipping God at a Black church. Bill Moyers, one of my favorite journalists and documentarians who used to do shows on PBS, once joked that… “In the South, there are more Baptists than people.” And after our journey throughout some of the South, I’d say he’s pretty darn close to being right!
So how did we choose to attend Sixth Street Baptist Church that Sunday? Well, it sort of chose us. You see, back in Selma, we met a young man named Stacy. He was from Birmingham and had driven his elderly father down to Selma for the Jubilee Bridge Crossing festival. Days earlier, in Selma, while standing in front of Brown Chapel (see the Selma letter), I met and talked with both of them and explained that my wife and I were going to be in Birmingham on Sunday in a few days and that we were thinking about attending the 16th Street Baptist Church — the one that had been bombed in 1963.
Stacy’s Dad had a big smile on his face and told me “No, no, no.” I looked at him with an amused and puzzled look on my face wondering “Why on earth would this man not want me to go to that church”? He quickly continued on and with a great deal of enthusiasm said: “When you come to Birmingham, you’ll want to go to OUR church, Sixth Street Baptist!” And so, with this personal invitation given with so much joy… How could we resist? (It also made be ponder later, gosh, how often do I as a Lutheran give such confident invitations…but I digress).
So we agreed to meet Stacy and his wife Leslie at Sixth Street Baptist (the father couldn’t make it that Sunday). We entered the church as a very upbeat and uptempo band played, Stacy introduced us to his charming wife, and we all sat together. Music! The band (the drummer had actually won a Grammy Award), a children’s choir made up of all ages sang a spirited version of the hymn “Rock of Ages” at a joyful tempo like I had never heard before, and then a well-dressed, all men’s choir sang beautifully (the church also has a co-ed choir and a separate women’s choir…all of these various choirs take turns on different Sundays).
As the service progressed and unbeknownst to us, Stacy had passed on information about Chris and myself to his pastor and of course we were asked to stand as they welcomed us (I was delighted; Chris found it a bit painful). After the service, we were greeted by the Pastor and introduced to several other people before we finally exited the building (an exit that lasted about as long as the service!). We then did what everyone apparently does after church in Birmingham — go out to eat (see photo below). After several hugs and goodbyes — and inviting them to stay at our house and attend our service at Holy Trinity, we headed out and drove back to Columbus.
So the trip and these letters have come to an end. As I’m writing this, thinking back on our trip, I’m still feeling grateful for having these experiences. I’m also grateful to all of you who have gracefully let me share some of these experiences.
And so I’ll leave you with one last “spiritual provocation” — i.e. something I have been thinking about and you might too.
Frankly, I’m often overwhelmed when I think about all of the injustice in the world. I worry about children. About violence. And especially I worry about what to do about it.
I like to think there are different “entry points” for each of us as we seek justice and love our neighbors. It might be simply learning more about injustice through readings or attending our own HTL Sunday school classes. It might be simply having an uncomfortable conversation with people of our own race or having a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like us or think like us. It may be contributing food, money, or time. It might be devoting a portion of a vacation to listening and learning from others. The entry points are, well, endless.
I’m currently reading a book by Richard Rohr called Yes, And…Daily Meditations. There are two sentences in the book that have been “bothering” me — in a good way. They are:
“The Gospel cannot happen in your head alone”.
“The Gospel is about relationship.”
If you ever want to wander through and wonder about those two sentences, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Holy Trinity’s Racial Justice Ministry team invites you to consider participating this fall in a couple of meaningful learning opportunities conducted by Sandra Quick. Ms. Quick is a seminary-trained former educator/principal in Columbus City Schools who now consults and leads training programs on Building Capacity for Racial Reconciliation, primarily equipping traditionally white churches and congregations how to advance the work of racial equity and justice. She comes very highly recommended by Pastor (former vicar) Sara Wunsch as well as Sara Neikirk and Becky Warnement, all of whom have participated in some of Sandra’s previous seminars and programs.
The two upcoming courses have structured learning around topics that are important to all of us. The first is a 10-week course at the seminary entitled Building Capacity for Racial Reconciliation (BCRR). With pastors and lay people from around the area, the class will take place from 3-5 pm on Mondays, either in-person at the seminary or by Zoom, from September 12-November 14th. More information is available by clicking 7.0 Course Overview
The second, less intensive, opportunity is to participate in a 3-week evening program called Building Capacity for Relational Equipping (BCRE) which will be held from 7-9 pm on September 12, 19 and 26th (location TBD). This program will primarily consist of participants from Peace Lutheran Church, First English, St. John (Pastor Sara’s church), possibly Holy Trinity and a few others. Details are available by clicking Invitation to BCRE
The deadline to register for either of the courses is Saturday, August 27. Sue Eubanks plans to attend the 10-week course and has spoken directly with Sandra Quick. If you are interested in enrolling or have questions, contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandra Quick at email@example.com.
Within our ministry theme this summer, FREED TO SERVE, all teens and adults are invited to share in a Sunday School Series to help cultivate equality and justice for all races within the church. Meeting each Sunday morning at 9am, the group will view a 20-minute video segment from The Color of Compromise, presented by Reformed pastor and PhD candidate in history Jemar Tisby. Each segment will explore different dimensions of the role that the Bible and communities of faith have played in development of race relations in our country. Each segment will be concluded with a guided discussion on the topic of the day.
A study guide is available with background information for each of the 11 sessions. Please email Pastor Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like one. Both the video and full text of Tisby’s study are available in the church library as well.
from Elizabeth Sammons With Love from our Racial Justice Taskforce (August 2022)
Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again, From Somalia to Snow House, and Bethlehem Besieged are books for adults and for youth that I’ve read myself or seen as books of note. This literature intends to expand our awareness, theology and/or acceptance of diverse viewpoints. We, on the Racial Justice Taskforce, hope you’ll discover how these writings from various generations embrace what it means to be human and to walk in spirit.
Allies: Real Talk About Showing Up, Screwing Up, and Trying Again by Shakirah Bourne
Diverse essays explore what being an ally is, needing an ally, and showing up for friends and strangers. From raw stories of racism and invisible disability to powerful moments of passing the mic, these authors share their truths and invite you to think about your own experiences and choices. For senior high and older readers. 2021.
From Somalia to Snow House by Hudda Ibrahim
This book unpacks the immigration narrative of Somali Americans and explains why nearly 20 percent have chosen to settle in Minnesota. It provides Ohio readers an invaluable insider’s look into the lives and culture of our Somali neighbors and the important challenges they face.
Bethlehem Besieged by Mitri Raheb
The pastor of Bethlehem’s Christian Church, a Palestinian Lutheran congregation, presents a collection of compelling personal stories of desperation and hope in the midst of lethal conflict, bringing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict up close and personal. His passionate personal testimony lifts up the stray gesture toward friendship, the brave attempts to rebuild life and livelihood in a destroyed land, and the unquenchable desire for justice and peace.
(Letter 7 by Fred Burton)
In the last letter, I talked about our time in Montgomery visiting the Rosa Parks Museum, and the can’t-miss Legacy Museum along with the National Memorial for Peace and Justice that documents lynchings in the United States.
Still in Montgomery, we left the museums to walk to the Dexter King Baptist Church where a new young pastor had started out — his name was Martin Luther King Jr. It was a slightly uphill walk on the main downtown street that headed up to and ended at the state capital. It was just before sunset and with our waning energy, we wanted to simply look at the church where MLK Jr. got his start. However, when we got to the church, we were surprised to see a black woman wearing a clerical collar being filmed in front of it (see photos below). As we approached the scene, the film crew saw us and immediately “shushed” us and said we could stay and listen IF we didn’t talk. And stay we did, silently watching the woman being filmed as she spoke passionately about what Dr. King had meant to her and to the community. At one point she broke down and started to cry. We stood behind the camera operator and stayed quiet while the speaker composed herself to go on.
When she finished, I asked one of the camera crew what the filming was all about and she explained that the woman was Reverend Janette Wilson, Senior Advisor to Reverend Jesse Jackson and the National Director of the Rainbow Coalition’s PUSH for Excellence. They shared that they were all from Chicago and were in the process of filming a documentary featuring various key places and moments in the Civil Rights Movement.
After the filming was over, I casually walked over to Reverend Janette who was sitting on a bench, recovering from her emotional talk. She looked tired, spent, and just a little wary of me as I walked over to say hello. After greeting her and sharing that I was moved by her talk, she explained that she and her crew were headed to Selma the next day to walk in the annual Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee. Then, maybe recovering some of her energy, she asked: “Now, who exactly are you?” I explained we were on a “civil rights” vacation just trying to listen and learn and that I wanted to share some of these experiences with my home church at Holy Trinity Lutheran in Columbus. She tilted her head slightly and seemed intrigued by that idea.
As we talked, I told her that the day before we had been to Selma and had met with a man, Mr. Charles Maulden, who was a foot soldier in that historic Selma to Montgomery march. A surprised smile crossed her face as she asked: “Wait, you know Charles Mauldin?” To my surprise, Reverend Janette immediately turned to her film crew and yelled over to them: “We need to film these two folks for our documentary and let them talk about their experiences on their vacation.”
They invited both Chris and myself to get in front of the camera for an interview (Chris quickly said no thank you), but I (humbly?) jumped at the chance to share some of the experiences we were having and the people we were meeting and most importantly, what we were learning from them.
When they were done filming, Rev. Janette gave us her phone number and email and invited us back to Selma the next day to meet the Reverend Jesse Jackson. With a great deal of regret, I explained that we needed to be in Florida to meet our family, but we were very grateful to hear her speak in front of the Dexter King church.
So what exactly did I say during the on-camera interview? Well, it depends who you ask. I recall during my “interview” that I explained about our vacation and our church and our church’s Racial Justice committee that was trying to learn more about civil rights in the context of our faith. But if you asked my wife Chris what I said, she would sum it up in just three words: “Way too much!”
Ok, as usual, I’ll end here with a “spiritual provocation” — i.e. something I have been thinking about and you might too. Last week, one of my young neighbors who goes to a Baptist church, confessed to me that she was “losing some of her excitement about church and God” for various reasons. I listened and mustered up all my might to keep from “solving” her problem (which is sometimes my natural inclination that often doesn’t help at all). But later I remembered a quote from a book published by Fortress Press and authored by a Lutheran pastor. The title of the book is: “51% Christian: Finding Faith After Certainty.” My neighbor and I are still in conversation, but I thought I’d share this quote from the book with you: “In two thousand years of Christian history we’ve witnessed countless episodes in which the certainty of the faithful has legitimized discrimination, persecution, violence, and war. During such dark times certainty has become an idol with truly tragic results…certainty just might be the enemy of faith.”
I think the author was just giving my neighbor (and all of us) permission to question, doubt, and wonder about our faith. And that doing so is an important part of our relationshipwith God. All of this got me to “wondering”: Am I in any way “legitimizing” discrimination, fear of others not like me, and racial bias? In some ways I feel “certain” that I am not. But is that true? Also, in 1 John 4:16,the Bible says: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” My Lutheran Study Bible has this to say about that verse: “Loving God and loving our neighbor cannot be separated.” With that verse in mind, I hope my concept of my “neighbor” doesn’t just include only those who look like, live like or think like me.
In the next and final letter, I will be sharing our last stop which was Birmingham, Alabama or what some residents we talked to refer to as “Bombingham”.
After spending two days in Selma, my wife Chris and I drove to our next stop…Montgomery, the capital of Alabama. It is only about a one-hour drive on Highway 80. However, you’re going to want to spend a lot more time getting there because this road is actually the very path of those who marched 54 miles from Selma to the capital building in Montgomery. There are some amazing interpretive centers and markers along the way that you won’t want to miss, so plan to spend a little extra time on your drive. I won’t go into the sites to see on that road here because this letter is going to be way too long as it is!
Montgomery. Journalist Deborah Douglas describes it as a city where “Confederate adoration persists, living in tension with the civil rights movement.” During our two days there, we found that description to be fairly accurate. Our “mission” on this vacation was to “listen and learn” about the civil rights movement and to reflect on how this connected to our faith life. Montgomery is a treasure trove of places to learn! For example, there is the Rosa Parks museum that has amazing spaces for children to experience as well as adults.
But for us, nothing compared to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. We spent about four hours in the Legacy Museum and could easily have spent two days. This museum was opened in 2018 and is an 11,000 square-foot immersion experience into the history of slavery and the civil rights movement. From the time you enter into a large room with a floor to ceiling video feed and surround sound depicting a slave ship crossing the ocean, to walking down a dark hall and peering into slave holding pens where men, women, and children are telling their heart-wrenching stories…this museum is a must see.
Once you leave the Legacy Museum (and you’re not going to want to leave), there is a small bus that will take you to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice just minutes away (and the bus will take you back when you are finished). While there, we quietly walked around this first-ever memorial to victims of lynching (see photos below). The victims’ names and the dates they were lynched are engraved in large, iron rectangles. Each iron rectangle represents counties in almost every state in the US (including Ohio) listing where and when these lynchings took place. It’s a bit overwhelming.
The purpose of our vacation was to “listen and learn” not only at museums, but from people we met along the way. More specifically, people that we went out of our way to meet. And so as we rode the small bus from the Legacy Museum over to the National Memorial, there were just four of us — Chris, myself, and two black women sitting a few seats in front of us. I had my “I wonder how I could meet these folks” antennae up rather than what I normally do on public transportation — don’t talk to anyone and don’t look them in the eye. It’s weird!
But that social politeness all changed when one of the women turned around, looked mein the eye and said: “What’s your opinion of The 1619 Project?”
I confessed that I had heard of it, but hadn’t read the book. She said: “That’s OK, at least you and your wife are here (referring to our visit to the Legacy Museum).”
In a voice that we could all hear, the other woman scolded her friend and said: “For heavens sake, why don’t you ask that man what he thought of the Legacy Museum that we all just visited instead of badgering him about the 1619 Project?”
That broke the ice and from that point on, it was non-stop talking on the bus and for 45 more minutes once we had all gotten off the bus. We learned that they weren’t just friends but sisters named Ira and Kathy.
At one point Ira said, “I think the Legacy Museum should have a place where white and black people could then talk to process their thoughts and feelings after visiting the museum, you know, like the four of us are doing right now.” I said I couldn’t agree more.
Later Ira said, “You know, there’s just one race, the human race and we’re all God’s children.” Again, I said I couldn’t disagree with that either and told her that I believed that the four of us were brothers and sisters. She liked that as was evident by the big smile on her face and as she nodded her head up and down as if giving it an “Amen!” As we prepared to go on our separate ways she said, “You know, there ain’t no black heaven and white heaven.” We laughed and ended with hugs and good-byes (see photo).
Oh, and by the way, I bought The 1619 Project book that very day.
I want to end here with a “spiritual provocation” that I used in a previous letter because I think it especially applies here.
Consider the Biblical verse: “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” – (Ephesians 2:19) My Lutheran Study Bible comments on this verse noting that “Christ brings both Jews and Gentiles together by the cross.” And that as children of God, we are “no longer aliens, but full citizens in the household of God.”
Which makes me think: While I certainly feel a kinship with fellow “citizens” inside our church, I wonder how many opportunities I have in my daily life and while traveling to connect with, listen to, enjoy the company of, and most importantly interact with the full diversity of “citizens” outside our church (certainly our HTL partnership with First English is one such opportunity). If you have been successful in doing so (a small conversation or in some other larger way), feel free to share that in an email (). Actually, it would be just as interesting to share some failed attempts as well. I have plenty of those to share 🙂
Final Postscript: In the last letter, Holy Trinity members John and Cindy Lytle shared their civil rights experiences as they traveled to Los Angeles to support their daughter who was having a baby. Well, the baby (Ruby) made it safely into the world on July 18!
About this blog
Welcome to my running online dialog on matters of our life together in faith community at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church—where the grace of Christ Jesus our Lord engages each of us and, in turn, sends us out to engage others with that grace as well. I look forward to learning and growing together.
- Pastor Steve Wachtman