Disobedience Here Below

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Alana Alpert, Bill Wylie-Kellermann, and others shut down the Department of Environmental Quality on June 4 as part of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Re-shared from Tikkun.

Ordained from Hebrew College of Boston in 2014, Rabbi Alana Alpert serves a dual position as rabbi of Congregation T’chiyah and as a community organizer with Detroit Jews for Justice. Because they have been working closely together on the Michigan Poor Peoples Campaign, she invited Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellermann to share the teaching for Rosh Hashanah. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in NYC, Bill is a non-violent activist, author, and United Methodist pastor recently retired from St Peter’s Episcopal, Detroit. What follows are their remarks for the day.

Rabbi Alana Alpert: Shanah tovah!!!

I suppose you are used to most of my heresies by now, but I’ll admit a new one: vegan coneys. There is a new place in Brush Park. Just a few weeks ago, I sat around a long table of Detroit Jews for Justice leaders discussing the implications of our recent arrests as part of the Poor People’s Campaign, a national campaign uniting tens of thousands to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation & the nation’s distorted morality. Continue reading

Why is Grandpa in Jail?

33116241_10214353738810852_6880318968586829824_oBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

I wrote this as a children’s book for Isaac during the Poor People’s Campaign. He was very concerned about why Grandpa kept going to jail when we were also teaching about how we dont believe in jails and prisons. So, I wrote this to try to explain it to him. We printed it out and he and Cedar and Ira and their friend helped illustrate it as a birthday gift to my dad.

Why is Grandpa in jail?
We don’t like jails. We think they shouldn’t exist.

If people make bad choices, there are better ways to help them be better.
Talking.
Caring.
Paying attention to what they need.
Teaching.
Loving.

Locking people up for years of their life only….
Takes them away from their families.
Makes people feel lonely.
Takes them away from the sun and the trees.

It is a broken, sad system.

So, why is Grandpa in jail? Continue reading

Hauling the Sanctuary on to the Street

Marian (1)By its simple public character a measure of light is directed upon an otherwise hidden and inconspicuous evil. By it an aspect of the historical crisis is expressly identified.  A kairos moment of decision for the community of faith is named and commended and acted upon.
Bill Wylie Kellermann, Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Kairos, Confession, Liturgy (1991)

More than a quarter century ago, Detroit native and ordained United Methodist Bill Wylie-Kellmann coined the phrase “liturgical direct action” to describe a brand of Christian witness that goes beyond charitable giving and moves outside the church building to expose and resist the powers that be.  Now 70 and retired from formal ministry, Bill is still hauling the sanctuary out on to the street.  Yesterday, in downtown Detroit, he joined 250+ friends and faithful in the final moral Monday of the national Poor People’s CampaignContinue reading

The Violence Happening in Our Midst

Clancy Dunigan

The Poor People’s Campaign resists and rises above systems of oppression in Olympia, Washington (PC: Clancy Dunigan)

The Poor People’s Campaign keeps on rolling. This is from Jeremy Porter in Kentucky:

There is a long history of nonviolent civil disobedience in this country and around the world. The goal is not to be arrested, but to bring attention to the violence happening in our midst. If we get arrested on the road to justice, then we are willing. This violence includes: People without dignified affordable housing (where an individual in KY has to work 77 hours a week on minimum wage just to afford a two bedroom apartment), the 40% of homeless youth who are queer, 200,000 people who die in this country annually from lack of wealth, 1 in 5 KY children who don’t know where their next meal will come from…these are just the tip of the iceberg of violence happening daily.

Our goal in the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is to wage peace and justice against this violence, but first people must know it exists…and so we name it and make it known through nonviolent moral fusion direct action, which sometimes means risking the breaking of a law to bring attention to the unjust laws all around us.

The Seminary, The Sanctuary & The Streets

Valerie Jean

PC: Valerie Jean

By Bill Wylie-Kellermann

There are a number of sweet connections between Word and World and the Poor Peoples Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. As the campaign heats up in the midst of these 40 days of action and witness, it’s worth remembering a few of them.

In 2003, we did one off our Peoples’ Schools, a week-long institute in Philadelphia. It was framed around a close study of Dr. King’s Riverside Church speech, “Beyond Vietnam: Breaking the Silence” which focused his national call for a “revolution of values.” In addition to the Plowshares Movement, that school included attention to the Kensington Welfare Rights Union in Philly, specifically their homeless union tent city which subsequently, as winter approached, broke open and moved into a boarded up Catholic Church, St. Edwards. Continue reading

The Greatest Patriotism

SackclothA Memorial Day message from Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Dear Movement family,

As the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival prepares for our third week of direct action, the nation pauses for Memorial Day weekend. Listening to many, including veterans in this movement, we chose to focus this week on our challenge to militarism and the war economy as well as the proliferation of gun violence in the US. We believe the greatest patriotism for moral agents is insisting that America become a more perfect union. Continue reading

Somebody’s Hurting Our People and It’s Gone On Far Too Long

BarberA Bible Study designed by Benjamin Isaak-Krauss, for the Poor People’s Campaign

Comments for facilitators:
This Bible Study is designed to be interactive and collaborative. Timeframe: 90 minutes

Objectives:
– Provide low-key way for religious folks to connect with Poor People’s Campaign, build community
– Highlight biblical tradition of care for the poor & resistance to oppression
– Frame civil disobedience as expression of faithfulness to God & our moral values as well as a strategic means
– Invite reflection on what our faith demands of us. Continue reading