Vincent Harding, rebels and MJ Sharp

Untitled-designBy Joanna Shenk, pastor at First Mennonite Church of San Francisco.
Written for The Mennonite.

Alongside writing Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Vincent Harding also wrote and delivered a speech to Mennonites in Amsterdam that same year. He made a call to Mennonites that, unrealized in that era, was fulfilled by Michael Jesse (MJ) Sharp.

At the Mennonite World Conference in Amsterdam in 1967, Harding urged the mostly Western Mennonite audience to take seriously the concerns and anger of the poor and dispossessed across the world. He articulated why these people were angry and why they were justified in that anger due to the colonization of their land, the exploitation of their people and the theft of their natural resources.

Continue reading

Do your own work: Leadership on the Frontlines

thomson-sarah-3By Sarah Thompson, Christian Peacemakers Teams. Re-shared from her blog.

One of my favorite things about my dear friend MJ Sharp was how he did his work, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He gave his life for peace work there, but he was not simply a martyr.  He was someone giving his all to investigative work.  MJ was a complex character who pushed hard for justice, utilizing creative and courageous tactics that led to positive change in some key situations.  Speaking at his memorial service, the representative from the United Nations remarked, “the international community has lost one of its best investigators.”   Continue reading

Sermon: Power of Names

10576925_10203724502133713_5217887874462831456_n

My Grandma Bea, me, my mom, and my sister Lucy

Preached by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann at the Day House Catholic Worker
August 27, 2017

Exodus 1:8-2:10
Matthew 16:13-20

As I read the opening piece of the text from Exodus, it feels like I am reading a script from the white men who marched on Charlottesville two weeks ago.

It begins with the Pharaoh naming his fear that the Israelites are becoming too numerous and powerful. He is scared they will out-number and over-take him. He orders that they be forced into labor and when that doesn’t work, he orders murder.

It echoes of the treacherous low-wage labor forced on undocumented folks living in constant fear.

It echoes of a prison industrial complex holding captive more black men today than were enslaved in the south. Continue reading

After the Rallies, the Real Work

APTOPIX_Confederate_Monument_Protest_68213

Philadelphia March. Photo from the News and Observer

By Will O’Brien

The Wednesday following the violence in Charlottesville, I joined with thousands of people in Philadelphia, mostly persons of faith, to march in the streets and rally.  The energy was high, the anger was rife, and the sense of energy to change palpable.  As distressing as the events were that precipitated this march, it felt good to be there.

But it also stirred some long-standing concerns and questions of mine.  This was partly the result of recently picking up off the shelf my old copy of Will D. Campbell’s memoir Brother to a Dragonfly, a book that had a powerful impact on me when I first read it over thirty years ago.  Campbell was a Southern Baptist preacher from rural Tennessee who became an important leader in the civil rights movement.  As a white southern man, he was part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  His radical understanding of the gospel and his own discernment of the racial crisis in his home region led him to the conviction that “Jesus died for the bigots as well,” and he took to a very controversial ministry among Ku Klux Klan members.  Ornery and wickedly funny, Campbell often cut through the pretensions and hypocrisies of many white liberal activists. Continue reading

Wild Lectionary: She Saw a Well of Water

2272958846_4bf80bc5dd_z(1)

Desert Well by David Winnie, Creative Commons, 2008

Proper 7, Season After Pentecost

Genesis 21:8-21

The biblical portrait(s) of Hagar include surrogacy, power, African identity, patriarchal family, enslavement, physical violence, pregnancy, migration, wilderness, water and the naming of God as one who sees. These are hard subjects and it would be easy to preach on another text. But when migrant bodies, mothers and children, are dying of thirst in the Arizona desert; when African refugees drown by the thousands in the Mediterranean; when corporations like Nestle, Kinder Morgan, and Dakota Access trample Indigenous women’s teaching that Water is Life; when the story of Isaac and Ishmael is used to normalize the Israeli occupation of Palestine; when overt acts of hatred against Muslims are escalating; and when white women’s complicity in criminalizing black bodies and exonerating murderous police is all but invisible, we cannot side-step this heritage that so profoundly speaks to our present. Continue reading

Family Emergency Plan

tamales.jpgBy Joyce Hollyday from February 2017

Once a week for three hours in the middle of the day, a group calling ourselves Mujeres Unidas en Fe (Women United in Faith) gathers in a church on the other side of the mountain from my home. About a dozen are Spanish-speaking women who are learning English, and an almost equal number of us are English speakers who want to improve our Spanish. Continue reading