Exploring Faith and Community • Macalester Plymouth United Church
July 30, 2020
Rev. Adam Blons
The work of the church continues, not just here at Macalester Plymouth United Church, but through our local and national denominations. Both the United Church of Christ and the Presbyterian Church (USA) work on our behalf, advocating for social justice, nurturing the church in its varied forms, and empowering leaders. Their direction and support have been crucial as we wrestle with the implications of the pandemic on church life. But our denominations also look to us. We are the church. We are the UCC and PCUSA, right here in St. Paul.
This past month, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) met (virtually). A full-scale multi-day convention in Baltimore became a few days of online meetings. Teaching Elder Gregory J. Bentley and Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart were elected as co-moderators. Street-Stewart is synod executive for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and is endorsed by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. Bentley is pastor of Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Their first action as leaders of the denomination was to announce this image of the Sankofa bird standing in the Mississippi River to represent the call of the church today. The image represents both African American and Native American cultures.
The Sankofa bird is an image from Ghana. The bird holds an egg in its mouth looking back as its feet face forward. “The whole idea is that you’re moving forward, your feet are moving forward, to reach back and to take what was precious to allow us to take that wisdom and move forward, so it all came together.” ( From PCUSA News ) She added, “Native Americans are recognized as water protectors. We will always protect the water. In the Dakota tradition, this is where their genesis started. It’s in that water, that birthing water of your culture and people and it is so sacred,” she said. The image and their sense of call to leadership in this moment is summarized by the slogan, “Learning from the past, living in the present.”
How might this image accompany us as a church as we move through our own antiracism work? How might we better live into God’s call in the present as a church by learning from the past?