Here’s one way to do it, courtesy of the Rev. Shelley Page:
I called each and every African American church in Ogden on the morning after the Ferguson non-indictment, expressing solidarity and sorrow…
“Hello. I am Rev. Shelley Page, interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden and I’ve only been in town since August. This is a message for Pastor ________. We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, but I want you to know that I am heartbroken about the decision in Ferguson. And my congregation is heartbroken, too. We wish to express our sorrow and our solidarity at this difficult time. If your congregation plans any public witness events, please let us know. We will be there beside you, standing on the side of love. Here is my personal cell phone and email if you would like to contact me. In the meanwhile, know that you are not alone. We stand together in love.”
“So,” I hear those voices asking, “how’s that working out for you?”
I didn’t hear anything, although I offered a Ferguson Vespers on Wednesday evening for my congregation.
“Which only figures,” those voices smirk sympathetically. “You know how people are.”
Why, yes. Yes, I do know how people are:
Then, I received a call earlier this week that New Zion Baptist was organizing a Community Peace March and they wanted us to come along with them. I spread the word to my congregation and beyond. Today about 100 people of many colors joined together in a peaceful march and prayed on the steps of City Hall here in Ogden, Utah, including at least 20 from my church in their yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts.
The New Zion Baptist minister told the crowd that he was inspired to do the march because an unknown clergy colleague had called him expressing solidarity. He felt it was a sign from God that now was a time to stand together, as a new beginning, to address these issues. When I met him for the first time in person today, he embraced me like a long lost friend, and told me that my call made the difference, gave him heart.
I walked at the front of the line hand in hand with him and three other African American ministers.
We don’t always have to take the lead. Sometimes our best acts of leadership constitute calling the other folks and saying, “You’ve got this, right? Tell us what you need from us.” And when you do that, sometimes that’s what makes things happen. You may even end up at the front of the march.