Pivot NW Statement on Charlottesville

St. Paul's Memorial Church

St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville where a multi-faith prayer service was held the night before the Unite the Right Rally. Dr. Cornell West was the featured speaker.

The last few days has seen many responses to the events in Charlottesville this last weekend. From the POTUS to the late night TV comedians; the cable news shows and twitter handles of congress; the mayors, university presidents, and thought leaders from all perspectives.

As social science researchers and theologians we wouldn’t presume to have anything exceptionally prescient to add to this diversity of voices at this time; either wise or unwise. However given our mission we felt it imperative to point out that many of the photos of the events of this weekend (in Charlottesville, in Seattle the following Sunday and around the country since) feature young adults. As you read the reports and reactions it seems the pundits and commentators were surprised that many are in their 20s or have recently left their 20s. And it is clear they are all passionately involved. In order for a generation to move forward with integrity and courage and rightly ordered conviction they will always need mentorship and a community of care.  We hold the bias that young people need to be listened to, empowered, guided and challenged by the church so that they can grow into their full potential of maturity; both in a non-spiritual sense, but also, and mainly, into a maturity of faith.

Theologian Howard Thurman’s comments on the place of fear in the human condition calls us to turn our attention to deep prayer and once again to the centrality of Christ’s place in our collective lives:

“Fear is one of the persistent hounds of hell that dog the footsteps of the poor, the dispossessed, the disinherited.  There is nothing new or recent about fear – it is doubtless as old as the life of man on the planet. Fears are of many kinds – fear of objects, fear of people, fear of the future, fear of nature, fear of the unknown, fear of old age, fear of disease, and fear of life itself.  Then there is fear which has to do with aspects of experience and detailed states of mind.  Our homes, institutions, prisons, churches, are crowds of people who are hounded by day and harrowed by night because of some fear that lurks ready to spring into action as soon as one is alone, or as soon as the lights go out, or as soon as one’s social defenses are temporarily removed.”

The collective fears that have again been ignited by the events in Charlottesville should remind us that the church has a place in the world.  As the hands and feet of Jesus our embodied action at this time is needed especially in the work of calling out fear and bringing the love of Christ to our region. We hope that we can help churches to invite the 20-somethings in their communities to drink from the deep and endless well of faith to keep them strong and wise as they become established as pillars of strength in their neighborhoods and faith communities. We feel more strongly than ever the importance of our goals and the importance of the partnerships we are forming with faith communities from all around the PNW, as we work together to understand how to effectively reach, listen to and support the emerging adults in our communities.

Jeff and Martin from The PivotNW team.