How Clergy Can Show Up

My fellow Faith Leaders – A reminder, that calling for (false) peace in this moment is an act of betrayal and not solidarity. People on the ground need our assistance, not our approval and certainly not our calls for restraint or our complicity in messaging from the state.

This is a time to listen to, trust, and follow the vision of Black leaders on the ground. Knowing that it will lead us all to holy ground. This is a time for us to repent for the faith we have lacked and truly come to believe that a new world is possible. This is a time when we are being called to deepen our moral imagination and believe the Black realities that are being shared.

Here are 12+ ideas for how to show up in this moment (many of which I’ve pulled together from asks I’ve seen from on the ground organizers):

#1) Stop using words like “violence”, “riot”, or “looting” when discussing organizers and protestors. Instead issue a statement condemning the ongoing excessive use of force by police departments and demand that police and the national guard stand down.

#2) Share organizers’ demands with your congregation and schedule a time to discuss them, perhaps during your weekly prayer time. Here are demands from Minneapolis organizers: 1. To never again vote to increase police funding or to increase the police department’s budget. 2. To propose and vote for a $45 million cut from MPD’s budget as the City responds to projected COVID-19 shortfalls. 3. To protect and expand current investment in community-led health and safety strategies, instead of investing in police. 4. To do everything in my power to compel MPD and all law enforcement agencies to immediately cease enacting violence on community members.

#3) Use your church marquee to show public support for defunding the police and lift up the life of George Floyd as well as the names of those murdered by police in your OWN city, town, or region.

#4) Use discretionary funds to contribute to local bail funds. You can find one here:

#5) Schedule pastoral care calls with members in your congregation who are Black. Ask how you and the church can support them in this moment.

#6) If you pastor a church near a mobilization, please avoid insinuating that your building needs protection from the protests and certainly do NOT call the police and notify them if organizers are nearby. That building is not your church. Your church is in the streets demanding justice.

#7) Consider INCREASING your hospitality. Ring your bells. Invite organizers in to rest, get some water, charge their phones, use the restroom, wash out their eyes, eat a sandwich, get fresh PPE, etc. Offer your building as a medic site or meet up point if organizers get seperated. Allow organizers to park in your parking lot.

#8) Ask your congregants to purchase items needed by medics like: water, masks, face shields, ear plugs, sandwich size ziploc bags, gallon size ziploc bags, goggles, stretchy gauze that sticks to itself, aloe vera, chemical cold compacts, and other first aid supplies.

#9) Use your sermon to show scriptural support for organizers and their demands.

#10) Call elected officials (especially those you have a relationship with) and ask for a meeting to discuss the demands of local organizers and ask that they be implemented. Invite local organizers to join the call with you.

#11) If you are white, join SURJ or another organization doing anti-racist work with white people.

#12) Contribute to the thread below with an idea that is not listed here.

#13) Be clear about what justice means. Often people of faith call out for justice, but in this moment we must be specific about what Justice means. Otherwise we risk the chance of pacifying people of faith with feel good words instead of calling them to action. Justice in this moment means accountability for police officers who murder Black people. Justice in this moment means defunding the police.

#14) Have extra masks on hand. If you are going to a demonstration or if you are going to open your doors, you must wear a mask and follow recommended health protocols as much as possible. We have to protect movement leaders in this moment of pandemic organizing.

#15) Keep your focus on police violence and not only violence against protestors. Clergy have a tendency to stray to more general messages. But this moment is not about social justice generally, it is about justice for Black people in the face of racist police violence specifically. We must stay on message.

#16) Don’t let yourself be used against organizers. If the media reaches out to do a story on you or your church, make sure a local organizer is with you.

#BlackLivesMatterToGod #GeorgeFloyd #BreonnaTaylor #TonyMcDade #BlackLivesMatter

2 thoughts on “How Clergy Can Show Up

  1. Greyson Vega says:

    Thank you for posting these recommendations. I am not Black but I am Latinx. I have known all of my life that this sort of injustice, has been here in our America for generations. I do believe it is beyond time to make real changes as individuals and collectively as a nation. I know many of our white friends do support People of Color but it is also time to support Black people and other People of Color from a place of willingness to let go of the need to be in leadership and calling the shots. People of Color can and will guide, control their own destiny. It is time to truly trust in that Power greater than yourselves, your ideas and your norms.


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