Solidarity in Action
by Kathye Hamm
Last Saturday was a great day for Christ Community Multicultural Ministry, a new start in San Jose. It was the ordination of Pastor Jared, witnessed by a diverse community. At the reception amidst a very generous meal, I had an opportunity to have fellowship and dance (yes dance!) with others. One of these many conversations stayed with me. I intentionally came to talk to one person because I had seen her in my visits with Christ Community even though I knew that she belongs to another congregation. “Thank you very much for coming today. I always see you when I visit Pastor Jared,” I initially said. “I am in solidarity with him,” she replied then added. “You know why, right?” “Of course,” I said. She had been a missionary as a nurse in Kenya, Pastor Jared’s home country, in her younger years. We both smiled – both proud and rejoicing in solidarity for the community on this important occasion.
I am still feeling overwhelmed with joy that in the last six weeks Bishop Mark Holmerud ordained three amazing pastors of color: Pastor Jared, Pastor Frances and Pastor Daniel, and then next month, we will be receiving another as you may probably already noticed on the newsletter’s upcoming events. [i] Two of these pastors were recent immigrants. There was a lot of joy that surrounded all of us. And “support” will not be the only word that describes this diverse community who came to celebrate with them. Some of them may be there for solidarity.
Dictionary’s definition of solidarity is “unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interests; mutual support within a group.” Others define it as simply “standing with” those who are excluded or oppressed. Dr. Elsa Tamez, a Latina theologian, explained a theological significance of solidarity in her book “The Amnesty of Grace” (2002), “The roots of justification as the affirmation of dignity and justice thus anchored in solidarity: God is in solidarity with humanity in Jesus, the prototype of the excluded.” Solidarity is the work of the whole church, a deep spiritual practice and a way to become aware of who truly we are – all together created in the image of God.
There are many more actions and stories of solidarity unfolding in our synod, in the light of being a sanctuary synod and a part of the first denomination to declare herself a sanctuary church. Therefore, I would like to invite you all this coming Tuesday, February 18th, wherever you are, to be in solidarity with those struggling and escaping various expressions of violence (economic, political, physical, etc.) through silence, prayers and/or acts of remembrance and service. Organized by the Congregational Vitality (CV) Team as a pre-event for the CV Conference, a special worship service will start at 10:30 am on the USA side and 11:00 am on the Mexico side as part of a Border Experience event in San Diego. There will also be opportunities for all participants to visit and listen to stories of those living and serving around and on both sides of the border in the afternoon. Bishop Mark and a few members of our synod will be joining this border experience. Pray with us.
For us, solidarity is always grounded in the gift of relationship and is a celebration of grace. You know why, right?
Director for Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop
[i] As of 2016, out 16,315 (including retired) ordained in Word and Sacrament, there are only 723 persons of color/Language other than English in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
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