Since the moment a Staten Island grand jury announced it would not indict the NYPD officer responsible for the death of Eric Garner, GTS students, staff, faculty, and alumni/ae have stepped out, spoken up and responded with compassion to the pain wracking our city and nation.
Not surprisingly, social media has been a primary organizing ground, especially via a new public Facebook group called GTS Action! #ThisStopsToday. Even before that, emails, tweets and calls swirled as members of the community moved to the streets, marching with other protesters on the Upper West Side, at Grand Central Station, and across the city.
The various efforts came together on December 5, when Canon Stephanie Spellers, Director of Mission and Reconciliation and Adjunct Professor of Church and Society, welcomed students, faculty and staff to a conversation about action and the need for long-term racial reconciliation. She said it was a promising and inspiring start. "The sad truth of racism and injustice is so sharp and present this Advent," Spellers said. "It reminds us just how much we need the coming of Emmanuel-God with us, and it reminds us why God comes to be born and reborn within us. We need some Christ-bearers on the streets of New York."
Coming out of that gathering, a group of students committed to composing and identifying prayers for justice and reconciliation, and those prayers have been woven into worship in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Another team launched the Facebook group and promised to keep the community apprised of opportunities to join public actions. Everyone agreed to don cassocks and clericals, and pledged to invite alumni/ae to join the robust GTS community witness.
Some students expressed concern about going home for the holidays and having tense exchanges with people who may not understand the depth of pain around racial injustice. To help facilitate these conversations, members of a group reading Living Reconciliation by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones are creating a summary of practices for engaging in difficult, truthful discussion across differences.
All community members who want to link with action and conversation are invited to join the Facebook group. In addition, here some ongoing opportunities for prayer, conversation and witness.
1. FRIDAY, December 12, at 3:30 p.m. on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan – "Prayer, Praise & Peaceful Protest: A Prophetic Response to Violence." People of faith will gather to demand NYPD accountability, transparency, and the end of discriminatory practices. Clergy: please wear clericals. All: wear black to demonstrate solidarity. More details at www.faithinnewyork.org. The rally will conclude with a Jericho Walk and teach-in by Black Lives Matter at 7:00 p.m. at St. Paul's Chapel located at 209 Broadway, New York. For rally attendees, please wear all black in solidarity. Clergy, please wear your attire.
2. SATURDAY, December 13, at 2:00 p.m., Washington Square (near NYU) – Millions March NYC. Join people across America who will march in towns and cities to mark a day of outrage, action and hope. Details available here.
3. NOW: Sign this petition from people of faith asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to call for a special independent prosecutor to investigate police excessive force and wrongful death.
for discussions about Ferguson, race, violence, faith and justice. It includes guides for talk with youth or with adults. In your Sunday worship, you may also feature
from the Union of Black Episcopalians, praying for justice and for new life.