In January, Synod of the Trinity Transitional Executive Susan Faye Wonderland and Synod Moderator John Bolt had the opportunity to travel to Montgomery, AL, at the invitation of synod executives of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be part of an ongoing discussion about race within the denomination. What follows are the reflections from Susan and John about what they experienced.
JOHN BOLT, MODERATOR
Our trip to Montgomery was eye-opening and in many ways transformative. It is also not possible for me to talk about the trip in isolation but as part of a process that continues to this day. A bit more about that at the end.
While I have considered myself to be non-biased, to be understanding, to be an ally in all things “diverse,” if you will, the truth is I’ve been kidding myself. (As perhaps we all are, to one extent or another.)
Montgomery helped uncover that, especially on top of reading Waking up White and Between the World and Me.
It also helped crystallize for me the need for the synod to play an active role in battling hate and discrimination … there is nothing more important for us to address right now than hate and discrimination.
To read more of John’s reaction to the trip to Montgomery, click here.
SUSAN FAYE WONDERLAND, TRANSITIONAL EXECUTIVE
It was Montgomery, AL, the week before the MLK holiday. Not a place I would have thought about for a January trip, but truly one of the more meaningful trips I have taken recently. The synod execs and synod moderators met to take in the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. It was stunning, overwhelming, educational, maddening, heartbreaking and important. It taught me a piece of history that I am not sure I ever knew. And that is a big part of my takeaway.
I learned we can’t move on from that which we don’t know but which may have seen and unseen impact on pieces of our everyday.
I learned we can’t do better, or more, or differently when we have lost memory of a story or rather, haven’t known the whole story.
To read more of Susan’s thoughts, click here.
Here are some of the links that better explain John and Sue’s visit:
Stories to hear:
Remembering a family friend who was lynched in 1919 in Ellisville, MS
The journey from death row to life as a free man
Remembering an uncle who fled the South in the 1930s after a near-lynching
Remembering a great-grandfather who was lynched in Abbeville, SC, in 1916
The website for the Equal Justice Initiative (link below) is amazing and rich with resources. Please explore it!
Below are some other things to get you started:
EJI’s New Legacy Museum (video)
Why Build a Lynching Memorial? (video)