It’s time for us to take a symbolic act of solidarity this Sunday by showing up at African American churches this Sunday. We know that real solidarity would involve a campaign to undermine racism which should begin by requiring that every public school be required to teach about the history and current reality of racial injustice in our country, as well as transform our society to provide actual economic and social equality. Nonetheless, we know from our contact with the Pastor at the Allen Temple Baptist Church, the largest African American church in the Bay Area, that showing up is meaningful to them. When we reached out to the Pastor asking if that would be meaningful, she responded as follows: “I think it would mean the world to the people and send a message once again that hate can not and will not win!”
Here are three ways to take action this Sunday (May 22nd)
- Join Us Live: If you live in the Bay Area, you are invited to join us at their services in person at 9:30am PT this Sunday, May 22nd. Allen Temple Baptist Church (8501 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94621)
- Join Us Online: If you don’t live in the Bay Area (or prefer to attend online) you can join us at the Allen Temple Baptist Church online at 9:30am PT this Sunday, May 22nd.
- Call a local African American church and inquire if such an act would be supportive and meaningful to them.
Below is the letter we sent to the Senior Pastor of Allen Temple, feel free to modify it if you choose to reach out to a local church. Please share this with others–the more people that show-up (just as folks did for us in the past), the stronger our acts of solidarity.
Even your most politically apathetic friends may have a sense of sadness and outrage, yet feel powerless to do anything. This is a first step toward overcoming that powerlessness!
Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis
Here is our letter to Senior Pastor Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson
Dear Senior Pastor Thompson,
We are writing, first and foremost, to express our deepest condolences, care, and love to you and your community at this time of yet another horrific act of racist terrorism in our country. We imagine it might feel like you never get a break. Simple acts we all take for granted–going for a run, bird watching, and shopping, just to name a few–are dangerous for you and your community. How truly terrifying it must be.
We want to show our care and solidarity with you and your community. In past years, we have done this by showing up at your services simply to say “We stand with you. We see you. You matter. We care.” We have also sent an email to our large constituency inviting them to reach out to their local African American church and see if they would welcome such acts of solidarity. We are wondering if showing up in this way would in fact feel like an act of solidarity and care. We want to be clear we want this act to be supportive to you and your community. It is not intended to make us feel better!
We are also aware that there have been many changes in the way churches and congregations are operating in this time of Covid and we want to be sure, if we invite our local members to join with us, that they are honoring your Covid regulations. It seems from your website that at this time you are requiring that everyone wear masks and that you have both in-person and online services. Is that correct?
We are thinking of showing up and inviting others to do the same this Sunday, May 22nd. Can you let us know if doing so would be supportive to you and your community and, if so, how you would like us to do that - in person, online, either/both? Are there other community events that you would prefer we attend or other ways we and our community can show our solidarity and be of support? Please let us know.
With care and concern,
Rabbi Michael Lerner & Cat J Zavis
Senior Pastor Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson's Response
Thank You and Rabbi Lerner as always for the empathy and solidarity you have always shown to us during moments like these. Unfortunately for both of our communities, these moments have become far too common, almost numbingly so.
The Allen Temple Family remains resilient and recovering from the pandemic and all its affects. We are worshipping in person and online. We have returned with one service that begins at 9:30 a.m. We are remaining masked during our times of worship.
As always, we welcome the presence of our Beyt Tikkun Family. I think it would mean the world to the people and send a message once again that hate can not and will not win! I am sure some may be more comfortable joining online while others in person. We certainly welcome both.
Please let me know so we can be sure to prepare and hopefully allow time for words or prayers of solidarity to be spoken.
With Gratitude and Appreciation,
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline A. Thompson
Allen Temple Baptist Church
8501 International Blvd.
Oakland, Ca 94621