In This Moment, the Call Is Clear

Friends: You can watch the entire June 7th Zoom service on YouTube here.

Read the text to Rev. Josh’s service and his suggestions for study and action here:

First I want to thank Gina for her powerful words. When I suggested to her earlier in the week that you the congregation want and need to hear from her – as our Director of Religious Education – on this painful, enraging, and defining moment in our nation’s history, she already knew it. She was already thinking about what she would say. I am proud of her for moving out of her comfort zone. I admire her for seeking the truth and speaking the truth. I am grateful to her for ministering to all of us.

I want to say this to the children and young people who are with us, mindful that any message to children and young people is always a message to the entire congregation:

I am sorry we have to talk about this, but we have to talk about this. In the middle of a global pandemic that has disrupted every aspect of your lives, suddenly human violence, human cruelty, human racism is on full display. White Supremacy—the evil lie that White people are better than and more deserving than people of every other race—is suddenly on full display. Your parents and me and Gina and all the adults at UUS:E don’t want you to have to think about this, especially at a very young age. We talk to you so often about a different kind of world – a world of fairness, justice, equity, compassion, and love – a world where there is no White Supremacy. We want that to be the world we live in. But over these past two weeks this other world—this painful, hurtful world—has been hard to miss. It’s all over the news, all over the internet, all over social media—everywhere. And the response to it—most of which has been peaceful and nonviolent, but some of which has been violent—has been everywhere too. Gina and I know that in this moment, it would be unfair to all of you if we just tried to protect you from it. In fact it would be irresponsible for us—it would be spiritual negligence—to not fully condemn in your hearing the White Supremacy that killed George Floyd on May 25th in Minneapolis, and Ahmed Arbery in Georgia on February 23rd, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY on March 13th, and Jose “Jay” Soto right here in Manchester on April 2nd. We condemn it with every fiber of our being. Our church condemns it. Our faith condemns it.

We’re naming it. I’m sorry if naming it hurts. It’s hurts me too. I’m sorry if it’s frightening. It frightens me too. I’m sorry if makes you angry. It makes me angry too. But we are a church with seven principles. White Supremacy violates every one of those principles. The spirit at the heart of our principles—the spirit of love and compassion, the spirit of equality and justice, the spirit that honors the inherent worth and dignity of all, the spirit of life and liberation—that spirit calls us to be honest about the reality of White Supremacy, and to do everything in our power to uproot it and end it. As Gina promised, I want the children to know we adults will do everything we can to uproot it and end it. We don’t want to let you down.


A few weeks ago, as I was reflecting on what we were witnessing as a result of the pandemic. I said, as so many have said, that the pandemic has made our nation’s inequities and injustices and white supremacy crystal clear. The most hardened hearts will continue denying this truth, but thoughtful, reasonable people everywhere are accepting it. You know what killed George Floyd, Jay Soto, Breonna Taylor and Ahmed Arbery? The old normal killed them. We cannot, we must not, we will not go back to that.

The protests are powerful. Can you imagine people of all walks of life, of all racial identities coming out to protest White Supremacy all over the country in massive numbers? All over the world? Can you imagine over 1,000 people marching in Manchester yesterday? The nation is waking up, friends.

But let’s be clear: the protests we’ve been witnessing and participating in so far aren’t sufficient to end White Supremacy. These protests are just the prelude. They till the ground. They make the soil ready. Our friends at Moral Monday CT call protest  turn-up. They say turn-up creates the political space in which social transformation can occur. That’s a direct quote from Bishop Selders and his good friend Rev. Sekou. There’s been turn-up all over the country, and indeed all over the world, for two weeks now. The political space for transformation has been created. Now it’s time for people who want to see white supremacy ended in our nation to take control of that political space.

There are many ways to do that. I want you to know how I am going to do it. Moral Monday CT is calling for a public fast and occupation at the state capital, from sunrise to sunset, beginning tomorrow, Monday June 8th, and lasting until the Governor calls the legislature back into session for the purpose of passing laws that will end police violence against people of color in Connecticut once and for all. I have been preparing myself spiritually and emotionally for the better part of a week to take this action. I am anxious. Frankly, I am frightened. I don’t know yet what capacity I have to do this. But the movement’s moment is here. In the words of W.E.B. DuBois, “now is the appointed time.” The political space has been created. We need to take that space now. This will be hard for me. My participation will be disruptive for my family. My participation will be disruptive to my work at UUS:E. But it will not be disruptive to my calling, because the power of love and life to which I bow my head in prayer calls me to this capital fast in this appointed time. It will not be disruptive to my ministry, because this is what ministry to a broken, hurting state and nation must be in this appointed time.

That’s what I am going to do next. I am curious what you plan to do. Whether you recognize it or not, for years our congregation has been preparing for this moment. I urge all of you, in any and every way you can, as residents of this state, as people of faith, as Unitarian Universalists, as decent, loving, compassionate human beings, to notice the political space that has opened up these past few weeks. Notice it and exercise whatever power you have to end White Supremacy. In the text to this sermon, which will be posted on our UUS:E website, I’m going to list a series of organizations that are naming the kinds of structural changes and legislation that have to happen. Specifically, I am looking at the Movement for Black Lives, the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU, The Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance, and the Collaborative Center for Justice. I urge you to study their demands. Study their campaigns. Study their proposals. Study, and then engage. Make sure your representatives hear from you: these are the changes we must make now. Now is the appointed time.

And I know that when some of us look at the kinds of changes being proposed—reparations for slavery, defunding police, abolishing the prison system—there’s inevitably a little voice in the back of our heads that says these things will never happen. It’s too much. It’s too difficult. The systems are too entrenched. The racist culture is too entrenched. I urge you not to listen to that voice. That is actually the voice of white supremacy. And it is lying to you. Don’t accept the lie. These changes can happen. And we can play our part. Turn-up has political space created the political space in which social transformation can happen. For everyone who believes Black Lives Matter, for everyone who wants to White Supremacy in all its forms to end, now is the appointed time.

Amen and blessed be.


The Movement for Black Lives identifies six ongoing Policy Platforms, and two Pandemic-related rapid response platforms, each with multiple concrete steps we can take to reduce hold of White Supremacy Culture on American society. Study these platforms and their related proposals here. Share them with friends, family and neighbors. Begin advocating for them in this appointed time.

The Connecticut Chapter of the ACLU is a critical leader on the issues of criminal justice reform, police accountability and immigration. They, too, are demanding that the governor reconvene the legislature this summer to pass laws that support Black and Latinx lives. Learn about their campaigns here. Take action on their call to the governor here:

The Collaborative Center for Justice is a faith-based, Catholic organization advocating for systemic change. They educate individuals about social justice in order to act with a prophetic voice for and with marginalized persons to challenge injustice and move the moral compass of our society toward peace and justice. CCJ is sponsored by six Religious Congregations of Women in Connecticut (Daughters of the Holy Spirit, Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Northeast Community, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur of the United States East – West Providence, Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame.) In response to the killing of George Floyd, CCJ is calling for four critical changes to our criminal justice system:

  1. Significantly defund the criminal legal system.
  2. Demilitarize the police.
  3. Ban no-knock warrants.
  4. No cops in schools.

Read the full proposals at here. Reach out to your state and federal legislators now to ask for their support in making these changes happen.

The Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance (GHIAA)  is faith-based community organization composed of approximately 35 congregations from across the Hartford region. UUS:E has been organizing with GHIAA since its beginning a few years ago. GHIAA’s various campaigns confront some of the structural roots of White Supremacy Culture. Familiarize yourself with their campaigns here.