A Legacy of Justice

By Alanna Simone Tyler, Associate Pastor for Justice & Mission

I was the kid who closely listened to and watched adults. Most significantly, I listened, watched and believed the people who shared the Christian faith and taught me what it means to be a Christian. I watched: Mildred & Sunny Chapman, Jeffrey Radford, Barbara & Sam Allen, Thelma Bailey, Rupert Graham, Charlene Porter, Maurice McInthosh, Henry Dishroom and Geraldine Tyler (and many more). Trinity United Church of Christ, an African American congregation seeking to win the community’s heart, as an essential expression of their Christians faith, was seriously committed to working for justice and demanding it when necessary.

Our monthly prayer of confession at Trinity distinctively included:

“…we have also closed our eyes and pretended not to see the injustices, the evil and the racism pervading our everyday live.

We have shut our ears and pretended not to hear the cries for liberation which come from the lips, lives and hearts of the oppressed…

Forgive us, O Lord, renew our courage and faith, and keep us mindful of [t]hy great sacrifice.”

Sometimes being a daughter of this community of believers has felt burdensome. I move through this world remembering their example and have been permanently shaped by their values.

This legacy and example of embodied justice meant standing up to bullies—as a girl when I defended the most tenderhearted kid on my block and as an adult who called out bullies in the workplace.

It meant standing with others in their struggle for justice; I came to understand this at a gathering of the national church when I heard a chorus of White LGBTQ Christians protesting and singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, because it encouraged their hearts.

It meant moving to the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis because I sensed I would meet God there and experience a beautiful and thriving community. And I have.

It feels natural and right to move through this world with the burden of this legacy and example of embodied justice. Westminster I hope that we are a congregation that will courageously give to our children a legacy for justice that will sometimes feel burdensome. Through our whole-life stewardship—giving our time, talents and resources—as our children watch us, we will embody our Hope for the World.  Knowing our children are watching us—knowing the world is watching-we will:

  • act courageously to transform social systems and relationships among people;
  • challenge inequalities that deny the fullness of life to some; and
  • practice loving of neighbors and confronting hatred.[1]

Westminster, please join me in supporting this church and that vision of justice! Please pledge on Stewardship Sunday, November 18.

[1] Adapted from the statement of Westminster Presbyterian Church’s “Hope for the World” Westminster Presbyterian Church’s “Hope for the World” responds to Adult Ed/Social Justice Forum speaker Rev. Dr. Rebecca Todd Peters*, who challenged us to move beyond studying the ever-changing economic and social world and to envision what we want that world to be and then to act on that vision.