On Wednesday January 20, a group of Lutherans from across the state attended the Virginia Center for Public Policy’s, “Day for All People”, which is an event for people of religious backgrounds: nondenominational, Christian, Jewish and Muslims. The morning began with breakfast then briefings on some areas of special interest that the center support: Health Care, Economic Justice, Criminal Justice, Immigration, Redistricting, Reducing Childhood Hunger, Gun Violence, and Pay Day Lending to name a few. It was during these briefings that Rev. Charles Swadley, interim director of the Center shared that the ELCA Bishop James Mauney, of the Virginia Synod has been very instrumental in the work of the program, “Virginia No Kid Hungry Program”. We were updated on HB (House Bills) and SB (Senate Bills) that the Center supports.
Next we all boarded buses to head to state offices where we had the opportunity to share our thoughts and concerns with our state Delegates and Senators. We talked about the bills and areas we would like for them to support while they listened and we did have shared conversations, we didn’t necessarily change their opinions but we
were able to plant seeds for thought. It is the hope of many of us that through sharing conversations one day we will find common ground for the issues that concern us all.
After lunch we had the wonderful privilege to hear keynote speaker Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church and president of the “Healing of the Nation Foundation”, speak on Racism. The Riverside Church, is an Interdenominational, interracial, and international church in New York City. Dr. Forbes, is an energetic and charismatic preacher. Dr. Forbes shared the story of Joseph and his brothers found in Genesis: 44-45 as the foundation of his message.
He reminded us that Joseph let his brothers know that what they intended for evil God intended for good, he shared that God had Joseph in Egypt to care for all God’s people. Dr. Forbes used the story to tell us that all people matter, all lives matter to God. Dr. Forbes said that until our motivation to love is greater than our motivation to fear, we cannot enact change. Therefore all people must remember that God is a God of love, love for all the peoples of this world!
After Dr. Forbes presentation we heard from a panel of various leaders, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Black, White and both men and women were represented. All the leaders echoed the same message, the call for us to remember that all lives matter to God again, all lives matter to God!
Our day in Richmond was very informative and well spent. I would like to encourage anyone with an interest in the work of the Center to try and attend “The Day of All People” next January and to also go to the Center’s website, www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org to learn more about all the work of the Center.
Minister of Christian Formation
Muhlenberg Lutheran Church