Pastoring During Protest
A conversation with today’s Presbyterian pastors
Samuel Son, manager of diversity and reconciliation at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, recently held a roundtable discussion with three Presbyterian clergy to discuss the challenges and opportunities of leading a congregation during protests and pandemic.
A Message from Samuel Son
Protests have risen across the cities of America and the world, declaring “there’s no peace without justice,” and saying the names of ones murdered. When reading these news stories, I heard the Pentecost story in a new light, a group of 120, mouths lit by the fire of the Holy Spirit, going out into the street, disrupting a national holiday, saying the name of #Jesus, who was unjustly killed not more than 50 days ago in those very streets.
I invited three pastors to share their perception of these protests and the complexity of leading a congregation and a city during protests and a pandemic. They lead multi-racial congregations, and in America, that means, as sociologist Korie L. Edwards says, dealing with racial justice.
They are pastors who are always navigating the complex terrain of race. By the end of my time with them, I arrived at a place I didn’t expect. They are one of the most important theological and pastoral voices to listen to.
Rev. Adriene Thorne – First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn – African American Clergy (She/Her/Theirs)
Rev. Amantha Barbee – Black American Clergy (She/Her/Theirs)
Rev. Kate Murphy – The Grove Presbyterian Church – White American Female Clergy (She/Her/Theirs)
Some of the words from the conversation
“Personal conviction should not be church policy.”
“Prophetically there has never been peace in this land since white colonist came and started the campaign of genocide.”
“White Supremacy is a system white people made and white people need to dismantle.”
“Telling the congregation where I am and not where they should go.”
“Total depravity not just an abstract doctrine…it’s a theological framework that helps us to sit with that discomfort.”
“Humility is important at this moment.”
“I really despise the word being woke.”
“More than being good I want there to be change.”