Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Power of One [By Rev. Shelley Page]

December 6, 2014

I note the power of one and the power of many.  

I called each and every African American church in Ogden on the morning after the Ferguson non-indictment, expressing solidarity and sorrow.  I had hoped to talk with people directly but ended leaving voice mail messages, something like:

“Hello. I am Rev. Shelley Page, interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden and I’ve only been in town since August.  This is a message for Pastor ________. We haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, but I want you to know that I am heartbroken about the decision in Ferguson.  And my congregation is heartbroken, too.  We wish to express our sorrow and our solidarity at this difficult time.  If your congregation plans any public witness events, please let us know. We will be there beside you, standing on the side of love. Here is my personal cell phone and email if you would like to contact me. In the meanwhile, know that you are not alone. We stand together in love.”
As you will recall, this happened just before Thanksgiving.  I didn’t hear anything ,although I offered a Ferguson Vespers on Wednesday evening for my congregation.  

Then, I received a call earlier this week that New Zion Baptist was organizing a Community Peace March and they wanted us to come along with them. I spread the word to my congregation and beyond. Today about 100 people of many colors joined together in a peaceful march and prayed on the steps of City Hall here in Ogden, Utah, including at least 20 from my church in their yellow Standing on the Side of Love shirts.

The New Zion Baptist minister told the crowd that he was inspired to do the march because an unknown clergy colleague had called him expressing solidarity. He felt it was a sign from God that now was a time to stand together, as a new beginning, to address these issues. When I met him for the first time in person today, he embraced me like a long lost friend, and told me that my call made the difference, gave him heart.

I walked at the front of the line hand in hand with him and three other African American ministers. 

Of course, as fate would have it, I have laryngitis! And I was asked to pray on the steps of City Hall. With my weak voice, I spontaneously mustered words from Howard Thurman and Langston Hughes that were met with Amens. 

Today started something in Ogden. There is a high resolve in the air. It was palpable. May it be so in your communities as well as we move forward together. May you remember that sometimes the power of one can blossom into the power of many who, together, will help in building a new world. Today gives me hope. 


 (And the New Zion Baptist minister wants a Standing on the Side of Love shirt!)

Rev. Shelley Page

3 comments:

VailWeller said...

Thank you, Shelley. I am so moved by your action, and by his response. This is what standing on the side of love looks and feels like! Holy.

Steve LaBonne said...

Thank you so much. This is why I'm a UU. Without faith, I would not have the strength to retain hope.

liz said...

Fantastic! I am a member of Live Oak UU Congregation in Goleta, CA and was one of several members attending a peaceful vigil for Eric Garner last night. I appreciate your message very much. Love that you reached out in love and left those phone messages for the pastors of the black churches! Our work is just beginning on this hugely important issue!