My first Activist Council Gathering was in Chicago April 2017. I arrived tired (we left home at 3am) and anxious; these were my theological and social justice heroes. I had followed their work for years. 7 years to be exact. In 2010, I had been to Washington DC for advocacy days when I learned about the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and the Activist Council. Since then, I had read their writing, followed their Facebook pages, and, when possible, listened to them speak and here I was tottering off to Chicago to be a part of the Activist Council!
Walking in, I was tongue tied and nervous. I shook hands, got my folder, and soon after, Matt Black began to sing and play guitar. As if on cue, The Holy Spirit moved with the music and became palpable, my nerves eased, and I realized that I had found my people.
During an exercise about social justice in which we were to move to different quadrants of the room depending upon our responses, I was surprised. My superheroes were human. I suddenly realized that the people I was with were cracked and broken, just like I was. They were vessels of God’s love and light that got angry and frustrated; who also wanted to quit at times. The members of the Activist Council brought their work with them as well; childcare issues, church demands, session frustrations, as well as the joys of serving a Living, Loving, God. These people, my people, fit as much lament and hope into the room as it would hold and when the room was too filled with emotion, we gave it to God; acknowledging our humanity and need for grace.
The work we do for the Activist Council is demanding. We fit it into the tiny crevices in already overflowing schedules because we are God’s children called to care for our neighbors as ourselves. But in those tiny crevices we cram full of phone meetings and google docs, we are yielded hope and unending love and beauty to the long days, the catastrophic situations. Hope and grace to the ‘no’s’ of GA and the ‘yes’s’ as well. Love to, and from, those who allow us to journey with them to the borders of geography and human resiliency.
My heart is sad that I cannot be there this fall. But I will be there in spirit and for the next meeting and the one after that, and after that. Until I breathe my last because these people who inspire me to keep digging into the texts, to keep banging on the doors of an unjust system, who challenge me to self-care, and offer comic relief are part of the church we love and serve. They are part of a long line of disciples who know that oppression and violence is not the answer.
If you are contemplating going to the Activist Council meeting, GO. Don’t walk, run to your computer, phone, or whatever gadget you have available and register. You will be changed. You will be made uncomfortable. You will be blessed, loved, and affirmed. We need you. Come.