Social Justice and Engagement

Before You March

February 26, 2016
Social Justice and Advocacy

I was sitting in the nave of Trinity Wall Street, there for the Trinity Institute 2016  “Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations on Race,” when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, in his opening sermon, shared these words from Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Before you march, meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus.”

This struck me. I know what I’m marching for: I’m marching for quality schools for all children. And I do meditate on the teachings of Jesus that brought me to this work. I can even imagine how Jesus might march with me. 

He’s holding a child’s hand, so we don’t walk too fast for her short legs. He gets to know the people and details of her young life, even if doing so breaks his heart. Or makes him mad. He might weep. He might turn over a table or two. He wants her people, the ones who know and love her best —  her parents, neighbors, aunties and uncles, her siblings, her nana and papa, and her teachers – at the front of the march, so they can do the talking. He invites us to come too, for sure he wants — and needs — us all there, as allies and supporters.

And in this march of ours for quality public education for all children, it is true that race cannot be ignored. And yet it is. Often. Sometimes even by me. This brought me up short while sitting in that pew.  Hearing Bishop Curry quote Dr. King made me wonder, “What do I need so I can talk honestly about race? And what does Jesus’ life and ministry show me that can help me have this conversation?”

So I began to meditate on it.  I meditated on the energy that coalesced in 2014 into the All Our Children national network I now lead. This energy began in cities and towns across the country years before I was involved. In New York, Dallas, Richmond, Boston, and elsewhere, church leaders and volunteers responded to God’s call to turn away from internal church minutiae, out towards their neighbors and neighborhoods to serve the children and invest themselves in their communities by strengthening schools.

I meditated on All Our Children’s experience at General Convention last summer, where volunteers from all over the country gathered and met deputies and bishops who were seeking paths to greater congregational involvement and community service. We could feel the Spirit with us and among us as Resolution B005 passed supporting church-school partnerships as a path to congregational neighborhood service.

And I meditated on all the conversations I’ve had in between those two events, and since, about what draws people to march with me, and Jesus, and All Our Children for quality public education. And at the heart of all of these talks and all of our work is a hope for justice, equity, and reconciliation. I believe this hope is God’s dream planted deep in our hearts.

Note: General Convention Resolution B005 called on All Our Children to convene a symposium on the role of the church in addressing educational inequity. As this blog was going to press we learned the Presiding Bishop has accepted All Our Children’s invitation to speak at that event, so mark your calendars for Oct 4-6, 2017.”

About the author:

Lallie Lloyd founded the All Our Children National Network in 2012 to connect with others who want to be part of a church that matters in the lives of children and communities. A life-long Episcopalian, Lallie has served The Episcopal Church on policy and ministry commissions at the local, diocesan, and national levels. From 2009-2011, she represented Trinity Church Boston on a community alliance that secured $70 million in state funding to transform a Roxbury middle school into a grade 6-12 STEM academy. A graduate of Yale College, Lallie holds master’s degrees from the Wharton School and Episcopal Divinity School. 

The Rev. Isaiah “Shaneequa” Brokenleg

Staff Officer for Racial Reconciliation

The Rev. Melanie Mullen

Director of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care