“I was at the Ministers March for Justice 8/28/17”
That’s what my button says. On the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington, the challenge called for 1,000 Ministers to March for Justice. Yes – there were 1,000, actually many more than 1,000. More than 3,000 registered and gathered on a perfect August morning on the polo grounds just behind the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.
I left the Wesley Theological Seminary campus Monday morning with about a dozen students and other staff. And it was not a typical Monday. It was not a typical first day of the new semester. But this hasn’t been a typical summer.
Along with thousands of others, we gathered for an atypical response — to recommit to Dr. King’s dream.
After the events in Charlottesville, Va., on the weekend of August 11-12, joining with the faith leaders who gathered Monday morning wasn’t just the right thing to do. For me it was a necessity. I felt I needed to be among those who gathered to oppose the contorted face of hate that showed itself again in Charlottesville.
As we entered the field, I was struck by the display of colors that I saw. The crowd predominantly wore the somber black of clergy-collared shirts, preaching suits and robes, yet was brightly highlighted with stoles, prayer shawls and t-shirts that proclaimed, “Black Lives Matter,” and other justice statements.
When we opened our big purple banner that showed we were from, “Wesley Theological Seminary,” several graduates, including a rabbi who is a Doctor of Ministry grad, spotted our contingent and came over to greet us. Actually, it felt a bit like a seminary reunion. There was a good deal of appreciation among the crowd that we were there representing Wesley.
The strong and challenging messages shared by a range of faith leaders at the microphone during the rally reminded us of the current assault on voting rights, health care access, and other hard-won gains. It assured me that many individuals are keeping watch on Congress, the White House and the Justice Department. We walked, we sang, we carried our signs demanding “Peace” and “Justice” past the White House, past the Trump Hotel, to the U.S. Department of Justice. Others rallied in solidarity around the country.
And that was enough for today. We know we have much to do. We also know we are led by both the spirit of those who marched alongside Dr. King and by God’s Holy Spirit, restlessly troubling the waters.
It was indeed a good way to begin this school year after an atypical summer.
Editor’s Note: This reflection was written by Rev. Dr. Chip Aldridge (M.Div. 1985 & D.Min. 1995), associate dean for admissions, after he attended the march with other members of the Wesley community on Monday.