BY JOHN W. COLEMAN
The Commission on Religion & Race (CORR) invites Eastern PA Conference members, families and friends to join a one-day freedom and fellowship ride to the nation’s capital on Wednesday, April 4, to rally against the scourge of racism in America.
A 54-passenger bus will pick up pre-registered passengers in the Reading area and at the Eastern PA Conference Office early that morning and return that night, following the 9 AM to 4 PM rally on the National Mall.
The Reading area pickup location is at Berkshire Mall, 1665 State Hill Rd in Wyomissing, west of Reading in Berks County. The Mall is accessible from US 222/US 422 at the Paper Mill Road interchange or the State Hill Road interchange.
The Eastern PA Conference Center, at 980 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA is located at the intersection of Madison and Monroe avenues, just off of Trooper Road (SR 363), near the Trooper Road exit on PA Highway 422. For GPS navigation, use the address: 1040 Madison Avenue, Norristown, PA.
The ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism Rally that day is part of the ecumenical National Council of Churches’ Truth and Racial Justice Initiative. The full event, including public worship and witnessing, happens in Washington, D.C., April 3-5, when the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4, 1968).
The CORR bus will also stop at the Delaware House Travel Plaza, along Rt. I-95 in Newark, DE, to add some Peninsula-Delaware Conference passengers enroute to the rally. The first 30 people to sign up pay only $25; after that, the cost goes to $35. So sign up today if you want to get on the bus.
The day begins with a silent, interfaith prayer walk from the nearby MLK Jr. Memorial to the Mall at 7 AM. An interfaith worship service will happen at 8, and the rally and “call to commitment” will follow from 9 to 4.
Rally organizers vow to “do our part to eradicate the entrenched racism that grips the United States and paralyzes our ability to see every human being as equal,” according to the event website. They add, “April 3-5 is only the beginning. Our #rally2endracism is the launch of a comprehensive, multi-year program to address racism in our nation.
“We challenge ourselves and our communities to join in truth-telling, leading to actions that right the wrongs, and, with God’s grace, bring healing and wholeness to all people, and unity to the nation.”
The General Board of Church and Society (which is meeting this week in Germany) will begin United Methodist participation with an information briefing on Tuesday, April 3, from 1 to 2 PM, at the Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave., NE, Washington, D.C. The briefing will cover alleviating racism and injustice in the areas of criminal justice, economic justice, the media, health care, voting, civil and human rights, environmental justice, education and immigration.
Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the UMC Council of Bishops, will then lead a 2 PM prayer rally there to “Awaken, Confront and Transform.” Church leaders from the Baltimore-Washington Conference and Virginia conferences, and possibly some from the two Philadelphia Episcopal Area conferences, will attend.
NCC leaders expect thousands of people and numerous speakers and performers from across the nation to attend the next day’s rally. Among those invited to address the crowd are: AME Church Bishop Vashti McKenzie, rabbis Jonah Pesner and David Saperstein, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, actors Danny Glover and Lou Gossett, Jr., musician Phil Lee, Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, first female bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Sojourners publisher and author the Rev. Jim Wallis, General Secretary of the Quakers’ Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Christie Duncan-Tessmer, and many others.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream fame, will also attend and bring ice cream for rally-goers.
April 5 is billed as a National Day of Advocacy and Action. The Methodist Building will be open for United Methodists who want to have conversations and network with leaders from Church at Society, the General Commission on Religion and Race, and the Council of Bishops. The NCC will lead efforts to lobby legislators on Capitol Hill.
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