“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” ~ John A. Shedd
Over the past five years I have seen our congregation do some amazing social justice work. We have become a Welcoming Congregation, diligently worked toward achievement and awareness of immigrant rights, worked toward achieving certification as a Green Sanctuary, and now immersed ourselves in the movement toward racial justice and equality.
Around the country there has been pushback against churches, secular organizations, and individuals who have chosen to ally themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement. Our congregation had been very fortunate that, up until a couple of weeks ago, we had not received any negative feedback from our surrounding community, in spite of the fact that our billboard proudly bore the movement’s title for four months (and will now do so permanently).
That changed one weekday afternoon, when one angry neighbor walked through our doors, infiltrating our comfort zone, demanding to be heard in a very aggressive and antagonistic way. In that instant we went from smooth sailing to turbulent waters.
It was a shock, but although it frightened us, it also deepened our understanding by smacking us across the prow with the reality of just how much the world outside our doors is desperately in immediate need of the work that we do. We had known, but now we know, and it has strengthened our resolve.
And so we are that ship, sailing forth from our safety zone in the harbor, unencumbered by the fears which, like an anchor could so easily weigh us down. This is our voice, calling for justice – at times drowned out by the rushing of the bow wave, but still loud enough to be heard by those who would listen and those who must heed. We will risk leaving the harbor because this is who we are, and safety is not what we were built for.