by Conference Minister Diane Weible
Last weekend was one of those weekends that remind me what I’m doing in ministry.
Friday was the Stop Urban Shield Rally. What made this year so special is that this year’s rally was a celebration of the decision by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to end Urban Shield in its current form. This year’s Urban Shield was the last. The Rally was not just a celebration of the fact that hard work and witness for justice for years on the part of many individuals finally paid off. It was also a reminder that the work must continue. As the Board of Supervisors decides what will take the place of Urban Shield, the voices of justice must continue to be heard.
The Rally raised the voices of people throughout the world experiencing injustice and oppression such as the Palestinians, Indigenous peoples, and the people of the Philippines. It reminded us that militarization and other forms of oppression intersect with each other and that fighting such oppression is foundational to all justice work in which we are engaged.
On Saturday I, along with many of our UCC faith community and tens of thousands of other people, walked in the Rise for Climate March in San Francisco. One of our ministers who was in Milwaukee for a meeting said she marched in Wisconsin. I know we joined people of faith throughout the world and that knowledge alone was awe-inspiring. I think the stats I saw said marches took place on 7 continents and in 95 countries. In case you didn’t know, the Rise for Climate March was held as a lead up to this week’s Global Climate Action Summit being held in San Francisco.
Climate change is and will affect the poorest and most vulnerable in the world long before the effects reach us. But they will. Climate Justice is not just something for which we rise because we are hot or we are tired of the unpredictable weather. We rise because we are called to care for all of humanity and all of creation and because the fundamental story of our faith is the story in Genesis of creation where God tells us we are to be caretakers of the earth and all that lives here. God doesn’t say we can do what we want with the world but instead tasks us with the awe-filled work of being stewards and caretakers of every living thing. It’s a heavy responsibility and we humans aren’t doing so well at carrying it. But, we still have a chance to act. And, we have to. God told us so.
My favorite sign of the day proclaimed, “97% of scientists are in a big conspiracy to give you clean air and water. Those PUNKS!” I think it’s time that 100% of Christians join the scientists in working for clean air and water and protection for all living beings.
On Sunday, I walked with my home church in the Oakland Pride Parade. There was such celebration in the air and as I looked around at the balloons and the dancing and the glitter and confetti, I was reminded how important it is to celebrate, even when we continue to fight for rights and for all humans to be treated with dignity and respect. Oakland Pride was a time to step up and, yes, remind people that there is still work to be done to insure that no one will ever be told by someone else that they are less than fully human or that they don’t have the same rights that others do just because their story is different. And it was also a time to celebrate the humanity in each one of us. Until all our stories are embraced and accepted, no one can rest. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find opportunities to celebrate in the midst of the work.
It was an exhausting weekend. And, it was a wonderful weekend. As I said, it was a privilege and an honor to walk alongside my brothers and sisters in this Conference at all these events. It was also an important reminder that God calls us to work together for justice and to end oppression and abuse of all God’s people.