Trinity Episcopal Church hosted a conversation on racial equality and racial justice on October 11. The speaker was Bishop John L. Selders Jr, the Organizing Pastor of Amistad United Church of Christ in Hartford, and a leader of the Moral Monday CT movement.
It was the second such conversation hosted by the church in recent months.
On Sunday, Bishop Selders spoke of how the experience of being treated differently and devalued affects peoples’ life experience, especially for persons of color living and working in Connecticut.
The assembled group included people from Trinity Episcopal Church, St James in Danbury, St Stephens in Ridgefield, St Johns in New Milford, and from the Bahá’í community. They spent part of the evening in discussion around tables while eating dinner. These facilitated discussions gave people a safe place to process their thoughts and feelings about racism and how it is experienced in Connecticut and the country.
At the end of the evening, Trinity member Rick Chamiec-Case challenged Bishop Selders and his wife Pamela Selders.
“We've covered a lot of ground tonight: the importance of developing relationships with people who are different from us, the deep connection between economic disparity and racial injustice, the enormously disproportionate rates of incarceration between people of color and people who are white, the need for education reform, and the like,” said Mr Chamiec-Case.
“You’ve made a convincing case that saying or doing nothing about racial injustice is, in fact, implicitly supporting it,” he continued. “So as important as it is to be having this conversation, we need to move beyond conversation to action. But with so many issues on the table, it is hard to know where to start.”
Bishop Selders suggested that they “start local,” and stand in front of the church showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as a first step to opening up conversation and dialogue with the wider Newtown community.
Many from the assembled group were ready to meet his challenge. On Monday evening, 15 people stood quietly with signs and candles in front of Trinity Church on Main Street in the first vigil for racial justice and equality.
Mr Chamiec-Case said the purpose of the vigil is to raise awareness of the staggering racial inequalities and injustices within Connecticut and throughout the country.
Fellow Trinity member Sue Roman said they plan to be back out next Monday, and Mondays after that.
“We are in an important moment in the US where we can right the wrongs of the past,” said Ms Roman. “I want to be part of the solution. We hope others who feel the same way will join us.”
About Trinity's Racial Justice Group
During the winter of 2014/15, a small group at Trinity began to talk about beginning a conversation in our parish focused on the crucial social issues of racial justice, equality, and reconciliation, especially in light of the incidents during the summer and fall of 2014 involving Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Eric Garner in New York, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, etc. As a first step, we invited a panel of speakers to present to us in May of 2015. Please see the Newtown Bee press release summarizing this first event.