In July 2013, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement began in USA with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media. It was a response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen, Trayvon Martin (which occurred in February 2012). Since then, the situation has not changed and more African-Americans have been murdered. This year, seven years after the BLM movement began, we’ve have been bombarded by horrific instances of racial violence, injustice, and murder that continue to plague the country where Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) was born. SEVEN years later! And many have not received justice. We know that racism is a global issue and it is heartening to see MCCers joining in protests in support of Black Lives Matter taking place across the world.Today we deeply mourn the lack of progress that has occurred, and today, we clearly state how we must respond moving forward.
As a denomination and movement that began in the United States, MCC has often recognised the intersectionality that exists between the LGBTQ+ community and the African-American community (and inclusive of other groups inside us). We remember, being birthed so close to the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement in America, that is it was a black, transgender woman named Marsha P. Johnson, who started the Stonewall riots. During the turbulent times of the early HIV/AIDS pandemic, MCC worked hard to minister to the two communities hit the hardest: the African-American community and the LGBTQ community. Today we recognise that among the three founders of Black Lives Matter (Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi) two identify as queer.
We also realise, along with many other LGBTQ+ and/or faith-based organisations that remain predominantly white and have considerable privilege, that there is still much work to be done! We recognise that we must speak out whenever we see hate, violence, and systemic racism; that we must not remain neutral in our position, that we do not accept awareness to act as a substitute for real, meaningful and direct actions, and that BLACK LIVES MATTER!
To date, MCC has already taken the following actions:
- In July 2019, the Moderator issued a statement, condemning the racist tweets of President Trump.
- In August 2019, the Moderator set out her commitment to tackling racism within MCC to the Governing Board and Council of Elders with ideas on ways forward.
- In October 2019, all MCC staff were given the responsibility of embedding and measuring inclusion and diversity in their work, using previous internal reports on racism, gender and inclusion to inform their work plans.
- Since the beginning of 2020, the Moderator, the Governing Board and the Council of Elders have been exploring ways of bringing healing around racism and white supremacy within MCC.
- In May 2020, the Moderator of MCC released a statement regarding the death of George Floyd and called upon people within MCC – and beyond – to work together to change systems and structures that can help us work towards racial equality and justice.
- In May 2020, the MCC Community Development Team submitted a “Proposal for MCC Dialogue on Racism” which calls for various action-items in order to address how MCC, as with any organisation, is impacted by internal racism, systemic oppression, and white supremacy.
- In June 2020, the Moderator of MCC released a Juneteenth statement highlighting how we can be the ones who can bring news of liberation and release from all that racism and white supremacy does to enslave each one of us.
- In June 2020, the MCC Governing Board announced the “Commission on Pathways of Healing and Reconciliation” which is “committed to bringing healing and reconciliation within MCC and leading to the deep changes that need to occur so that MCC becomes more fully diverse and inclusive.” This Commission will set the foundation for an ongoing process of growth, development and cultural change in the areas of race equity, diversity and inclusion as a long term commitment throughout MCC.
- We’ve been regularly demonstrating our support for Black Lives Matter and other acts of racial justice on our official MCC Facebook page.
- Finally, we are proud to acknowledge that many of our churches have held vigils for racial justice and are attending BLM rallies and demonstrations. Many are holding worship services centered on racial justice while others are creating educational programs that specifically encourage new learnings about white privilege, racial inequality, systematic racism, and/or racial justice.
Scripture tells us that humans are made in the image of God.
God creates every Black life in God’s own image.
God cherishes every Black life.
Black lives matter.
In blessing and in solidarity,
Reverend Elder Cecilia Eggleston
Moderator for Metropolitan Community Churches