Reflections from the National Mall

Church of the Brethren Newsline
April 20, 2018

Some Church of the Brethren members gathered for a photo during the ACT rally in Washington, D.C., on April 4: (from left) Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations; Joan and Orlando Redekopp; Tori Bateman, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker at the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy; and Gimbiya Kettering, director of Intercultural Ministries. Orlando Redekopp is a former pastor at First Church of the Brethren in Chicago, and wrote a short history of the church that includes a special link with Martin Luther King Jr.’s time in the city: More about the ACT rally can be found at

Two people who were on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 4 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. reflect on the experience:

‘I still live in a time of great faith and hope’
by Doris Abdullah, Church of the Brethren representative to the United Nations

I was reminded that I still live in a time of great faith and great hope, and we will continue the march forward. Daily we carry that faith and hope to:

— the border, to stand with the thousands fleeing violence and poverty in their native lands;

— the schools, to fight for the rights of children to get an education in a violence-free environment;

— the courts, to fight to overhaul the justice system that entraps a disproportionate number of our men;

— the streets, to demand justice for those killed just because of their color;

— the ballot box, to elect persons to reflect our rights to equality;

— the hospitals, to demand health care for those without;

— the shelters, for the homeless and dispossessed.

I remembered that Dr. King was a preacher. He most likely would have given us a powerful scripture to take away from the rally. The scripture text from 1 Peter 1:3b-4 seemed fitting to me, as the predicted dark clouds and hurricane winds passed over the National Mall that day without touching down.

This is a season of Easter and Passover. “By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Awakened, confronted, transformed
by Tori Bateman, associate at the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

On April 4, I had the opportunity to attend the ACT Now! United to End Racism rally, put on by our partner, the National Council of Churches. This rally, held on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., commemorated his death and also called for the awakening, confronting, and transforming of the United States on issues of social and economic justice.

I was most impacted by the interfaith service, which brought together leaders from a multitude of faith communities. Jewish leaders, Sikh leaders, Christian leaders, and others spoke powerfully about the need to address systemic racism. Even more powerful were the admissions of racism within their own past and present church structures.

When communities of diverse backgrounds and beliefs can come together on such important issues, it makes me hopeful that real progress can be made. This rally was just the beginning of the National Council of Churches’ “Unite to End Racism” campaign, and I look forward to seeing the collaboration, discussion, and change that comes as a result of this important national conversation.

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