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Deputies of color meet ahead of General Convention

Deputies of color meet ahead of General Convention

The House of Deputies newsletter sums up a meeting of deputies of color preparing for General Convention earlier this month.

The meeting was attended by Asian and Asian American, Black and African American, Native American, and Hispanic deputies and alternate deputies from across the church. …

In addition to a General Convention orientation, a visit to the Salt Palace Convention Center, and conversations about key issues coming before convention, Deputy Richard Miller of the Diocese of Southeast Florida reported that each of the ethnic caucuses developed “priorities that expressed what is important to the lives of their constituents.”

“Each group’s priorities were shared, and common themes emerged,” said Miller. “Deputies of color agreed to remain in communication with each other before convention, and we agreed to meet on alternate nights to discuss strategies, pending actions of convention, and other significant matters.”

House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Jennings addressed the gathering on March 21st, and borrowed the theme offered by Congressman John Lewis at his recent acceptance of the Jonathan Daniels Humanitarian Award of “good and necessary trouble.”

In his acceptance speech at VMI, Lewis, who was beaten by state troopers on Bloody Sunday in Selma, noted that Daniels was seen by many people in the South as an “outside agitator.” He said that Daniels “found a way to get in the way,” to get into “good trouble, necessary trouble.” He said that others who got into “good trouble, necessary trouble” were Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Lewis himself.

On the face of it, you may not think that civil rights hero John Lewis getting an award named for civil rights martyr Jonathan Daniels represents much change. But the award was given by a Southern military school that was for 130 years, until 1968, all white. When Jonathan Daniels attended VMI, it was a segregated institution. And until this year—until 2015—the physical award given to honorees was a replica of a statue called “Virginia Mourning Her Dead,” which commemorates students at the school who fought for the Confederacy. This year, Congressman John Lewis received a medal bearing the likeness of Jonathan Daniels.

So change is sometimes very slow, and sometimes very painful, and sometimes, to people looking in from the outside, what has to be overcome is difficult to believe, much less to understand. Maybe this sounds like another institution you know?

…Three months from now, we’ll be right back here in the midst of General Convention, and that will give us the opportunity to get some of this work done. At this General Convention, in the midst of the debate about the structure of the church, we’ll have the opportunity—I would argue that we’ll have the obligation—to ensure that our church is structured to do the work of justice in the church and the world. Put simply, we need a church that allows us—encourages us—to get into what Congressman Lewis called good trouble, necessary trouble.

Read the full text of Jenning’s address here.

Photo credit: House of Deputies website

Posted by Rosalind Hughes

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