On Monday 7/20, twelve African Methodist Episcopal Church clergy from across the Commonwealth spoke at the MA Statehouse in support of comprehensive police reform, now before the House.
Read the Press Release from the New England Annual Conference, one of MCC's 18 member denominations here and watch the press conference here
     "Protest ought to yield to policy change," said Presiding Elder Jocelyn Hart Lovelace of the New England Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at a state house press conference of A.M.E. clergy on Monday.  And we are at a moment of enormous potential for policy change, if we pray and push. 

    There is a very brief window for policy change, with the Massachusetts House taking up police reform today 7/22 (watch live debate beginning at 11am here), and the legislative calendar ending 7/31. 

    Listening to the protests in the streets, the cries of the Holy Spirit, and the testimony of Black and brown Christians who have themselves experienced racially-biased over-policing, the MCC Executive Board recently affirmed the need for our work and witness to racial justice to include advocating for policy change in police reform. So with a number of our member churches, we join with a statewide effort and invite your advocacy for policy change. 

    As Rev. Marcus McCullough of Bethel A.M.E. in Springfield said:
"We need to pray and push...As progressive as our Commonwealth is, why are we one of only four states in this union that does not have some kind of POST system? Why is it that our frontline medical personnel have licenses they could lose, but officers do not? Why are our teachers subject to more discipline than our police officers? "

    Currently, Massachusetts is one of only four states in the nation that does not have a statewide system (often called POST for Peace Officer Standards and Training) for certification and decertification, and uniform standards for law enforcement. 

    The Boston Globe editorialized in support: 
"The House should move the bill forward. There are moments when long-overdue changes that once seemed impossible suddenly seem within reach. This is one of those moments...The spark may well have been lit 1,200 miles away with the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, but it is no less relevant on the streets of Boston and Brockton and Springfield and countless Massachusetts communities."  We hope this gets through the House swiftly and strongly, reconciled with the Senate and signed by Governor Baker quickly. 

    In this email, we've included tools for you to learn more about the police reform efforts, pray, push and make calls to witness to a Christian faith where everyone is treated with equal dignity and worth, where every person is afforded their full humanity. We know that one bill is not the totality of the needed anti-racist reform, nor is the justice God demands achievable in the flawed and frail process of legislative compromises. And yet, this police reform effort is long overdue and will have real consequences for Black, immigrant, and communities of color. We pray you join this invitation to reform, solidarity, and the work of justice and peace. 

In hope,
Revs. Laura, Meagan, Kenneth and Carrington
Church, we know the police reform legislation can be unclear, and the way forward uncertain. Watch this 15 minute Facebook Live conversation between Rev. Laura & Rep. Andy Vargas of Haverhill, member of the MA Black & Latino Legislative Caucus, for a better understanding of the process, how you can affect change, and what's at stake. Click on the video below:
Watch this 1 min YouTube Video produced by the Boston Herald to understand the concerns of the African Methodist Episcopal clergy of Massachusetts and the prayer and push for police reform. https://youtu.be/IfKXIYobtHw

Advocacy Resources
News & Resources Spotlight:

Police ReformWGBH covered the recent A.M.E church witness. "Rev. Bernadette Hickman-Maynard, pastor at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lynn, said the Senate's bill was a good start, but the House bill doesn't go far enough. She urged the two branches to conference a bill that goes "all the way and [makes] sure to fully ban these violent and deadly assaults on our communities." Read more here: https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2020/07/20/house-approach-to-qualified-immunity-lacking-for-some-police-say-reform-starts-with-department-accreditation

Foundations of Christian Leadership Cohort & Grant Program:  Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School is accepting applications for their 2020-2021 cohort of Foundations of Christian Leadership, with Aug 14 deadline. This program will be conducted online. Rev. Laura will be one of the Session 1 guest lecturers and participated in the Spring cohort, where the online pedagogy was excellent. For more information on applying, visit: https://leadership.divinity.duke.edu/what-we-offer/programs/foundations-of-christian-leadership/dates-and-locations/2020-21-san-antonio/

MCC Job Board: We want to remind you that there are a few new jobs posted on the Mass. Council of Churches Job Board, including a new position at the National Council of Churches. Additionally, if you are looking to hire, you can post a job on our job board too. 

The Last Words of George Floyd: In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minnesota and the ensuing protest that erupted across the world in June 2020, City Mission Boston invites you to sit in prayer for nine weeks to honor the life of Mr. Floyd and a call for God’s justice.  Read the prayers here: https://citymissionboston.org/news/the-last-words-of-mr-george-perry-floyd-jr

There is a Balm In Gilead: A Call to Lament Together During this complicated season of COVID 19 and escalating racial violence, this chapter by Rev. Dr. Emmett Price serves as a resource for congregations of all ethnicities are who encouraged to enter a season of lament. From our colleagues at the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience. Learn more here: https://isbce.com/resources/suggested-readings/

COVID-19 resources for Places of Worship from the City of Boston: We know that each denomination and each municipality has different recommendations, in addition to the statewide minimum safety standards.  The interfaith guidance from the City of Boston is another tool for your consideration as you and your congregation think about what it takes to safely return to buildings, given the ways COVID-19 spreads and the populations under our care. 
A Daily Examen for Living as an AntiRacist Person: The idea of an "examen" comes from the traditions of Ignatian spirituality founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola. It's a way of reflecting on one's practices daily.  Vernée Peacock Wilkinson, a Black Spiritual Director, Diversity Equity and Inclusion consultant, and lay leader at Reservoir Church in Cambridge and Dr. Ted Wueste, a white Spiritual Director and Pastor in Arizona  have worked together to create "A Daily Examen For Living as an AntiRacist Person" Read and use this in your daily practice here: 

masscouncilofchurches.org      |     (617) 523-2771