When I participate in an organization, I tend to stick with it for a very long time. That’s been the case with my commitment to LaSalle Street Church (Chicago), which I joined just over 40 years ago. My spouse Tim and I sometimes remark on how our marriage has been challenged, supported, and even preserved by our participation in worship and ministry at LSC.
At this point in time, I’m reminded that it’s been about 21 months since my church began its latest discussion of and actions around racial justice issues (see the post from Oct. 4, 2018). Combine that essential focus over many months with the complications of being and doing church during the global pandemic and you have many times for despair and exhaustion (for staff and members) as well as amazing opportunities for creativity and hope.
I want to highlight a few of the amazing opportunities here just to encourage you and your worshiping community to reflect on how to bring together all of our mixed feelings and diverse social movements and then place them in the very middle of the people gathered to worship before God.
Being a nondenominational church with a wide variety of opinions, the church board decided that the pastors would celebrate the Lord’s Supper twice a month as usual and people “watching at home” would participate as they felt led. When the antiracist protests began in late May, sometimes the pastors’ celebrations moved to historically significant sites in Chicago. You can watch Executive Pastor Randall Blakey and Senior Pastor Laura Truax in two of these rituals:
- Celebrating the Lord’s Supper at the home of Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, African-American journalist and one leader of anti-lynching campaigns beginning in the late 1800s. Wells-Barnett was awarded a Pulitzer Prize special citation “f]or her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.” [pulitzer.org]
- Celebrating the Lord’s Supper at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, Marquette Park, Chicago
And from the LSC worship service on May 31, here is an especially encouraging version of “The Prayer” sung in English and Italian by Elizabeth Norman, and Keil Williams in Chicago, Illinois, accompanied by Rob Clearfield in Paris, France (edited by Pastor Randall). (You may need to click on the title in the upper left of the image.)
Words fail to describe how I much I have been moved, changed, comforted and empowered by people from my church over so many years. What an unanticipated and unearned blessing from God.