When John Keasler came to First Church in 1999, he was looking for a spiritual home where his being gay wouldn't be a problem. When he found the Rainbow Action Group on the patio and he learned that the Men's Fellowship sponsored a Gay-Straight weekend retreat, he knew he'd come home.
For 22 years, John has been a loyal member and a committed leader, currently co-chair of Rainbow Outreach. I asked him why he thinks that a group officially recognized as an organization of the church in 1981 is still going strong. He said Rainbow Outreach has been doing the same thing for forty years, and that it responds to issues that affect LGBTQ people within First UU and in the larger community.
As Unitarian Universalists we must speak and act to stop the frequent, state-sanctioned violence committed against members of our shared community. The murders of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Tony McDade in Florida, and George Floyd in Minnesota, among so many others, were all committed by police or former police. Here in San Diego, we also see police brutality such as that perpetrated against an individual walking her dog on the beach as well as in La Mesa when a police officer had an altercation with a black man at a trolley station. This is not about a few rogue officers. This isn’t about the need for more training. This isn’t even about a change in leadership. Replacing one police chief with another is not enough if the pervasive racist system that empowers them is unchanged. The work of transforming our law enforcement and justice system into a true JUSTICE system will be long and difficult, messy and painful. We commit to that work, in solidarity with our partners. Violence against Black and Brown bodies, committed by officers of the law, demands this system must be remade.
By Stevie K. Carmody, Intern Minister
Many months have passed since this protest, but the learnings have stuck with me, and the urgency of this call has not abated. Because of my short (3 hour) detention and the ensuing Federal Misdemeanor charge, I waited to offer something to this blog until after my court date had passed. On May 8th, I pleaded guilty in court to a charge of “nonconformity to the lawful orders of a federal agent.” Those detained and charged that day were ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. Here’s the story of that day, to complement Rev. Kathleen’s account on this blog, and offer my own reflections:
Love knows no borders. Not only is this a truth in the reality of people’s lives and experience today – it has always been a truth – we’ve been loving beyond and across barriers and borders since we knew we could love. And earlier this month, Love Knows No Borders was also a campaign, organized by the American Friends Services Committee – a campaign to draw attention to what has been happening to migrant families, to people living in dangerous circumstances and crippling poverty who walked for weeks to our border, to seek asylum, to try for a better life for themselves and their present and future children. In spite of the horrible treatment our government has imposed on families already living in this country – separating families, taking children out of the arms of their parents (15,000 children currently living in temporary tent cities and shelters), the caravan of people from Latin America came in hope. And though I was recently back from part 1 of my sabbatical, I knew I needed to participate. I had to respond to the immoral and inhumane behavior of my government and how they were treating people who were coming to our border to ask for asylum.
Text of the speech delivered by Rev. Kathleen Owens at the San Diego Organizing Project's Border Wall Press Conference in San Ysidro.
"Good afternoon, I’m the Rev. Kathleen Owens, Lead Minister at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego answering the call of Love. We are here to speak the truth – that unless we are of Indigenous Native American or Mexican heritage, we are all immigrants on this land. We’re here to name the truth that immigrants have always made this country better…that we need bridges, not walls."
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