Dear Brentwood Friends,
As the city of Springfield prepares for President Trump’s visit on Wednesday, there are three urgent items we wish to bring to your attention (details about each are below):
(1) First, we hope you can attend tonight’s “Standing With Our Neighbors: The Call for Moral Leadership” event, doors open at 6:00 p.m. at Drury University, sponsored by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the Springfield NAACP.
(2) Second, we are part of an effort to recruit peacemakers who are committed to the principles of non-violence. Both pro-Trump and anti-Trump gatherings are planned on Wednesday, and it’s vital that the highest degree of non-violent resistance (the kind embodied by Jesus, Gandhi, and King) be at the forefront of these demonstrations.
(3)Third, we are trying to help local organizers identify and support “Legal Observers” who are willing to observe and make notes about the demonstrations and actions, including those on both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump sides, as well as police responses in the midst of this.
Here are the details for each:
(1) Standing with Our Neighbors: The Call for Moral Leadership”
When: Tuesday, August 28, 2017, Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Reed Auditorium, Trustee Science Center, 729 N Drury Lane, corner of Drury Lane and Chestnut (Parking in Lots 1 and 2)
Before Trump’s visit we want to make our vision for Springfield and America clear–Our America, Our Missouri, Our Springfield is one where we stand with our neighbors.
At a time when anger, division, intolerance, and fear have dominated the public square, we need to present a message of love, justice, and inclusion.
Last week the president spoke out about our crumbling infrastructure. While our roads and bridges may be in trouble, our moral infrastructure is in even greater danger. Post-Charlottesville we need to come together and demonstrate that the beloved community still exists in Springfield, Missouri. Please help us send this message to our president and to the wider world.
A diverse group of community leaders will issue the call for taking a stand, for taking action, as so well stated by Rabbi Craig Sheff, “To live with a consciousness of our connection to others that guides our choices and our behavior. This is what God hopes will shape the kind of love we experience and bring into the world, the kind of moral leadership you and I provide for the world of tomorrow.”
(2) A Call for Peacekeepers.
Do you have the ability to be a Peacekeeper working out of the principles of non-violent resistance? Read the following guidelines to see if this is for you:
1. Be warm, friendly, and helpful. The tone of the demonstration depends on how you respond to your fellow demonstrators, police, the media, and workers. Our attitude should be one of openness, friendliness and respect toward all officials and participants. Peacekeepers are not junior police, and this is no place for authority trips.
2. Be creative. Nonviolence does not mean being aloof or failing to act. You must be creative in your attempt to intervene and resolve a conflict.
3. Be firm, but not rigid. If you have agreed to be a peacekeeper you must have agreed to uphold the nonviolent principles of the demonstration. This occasionally means pushing people to do things they do not want to do. Stick to your commitment to nonviolence and strongly encourage others to do the same.
4. Be forthright. Deal fairly and honestly with people engaged it conflict, no matter what they have done. If you don’t know the answer to something, say so.
5. Be calm. It is a rare person who does not become angry or afraid under stress. Don’t think that you are weak if you have fears. The important thing in being a peacekeeper is learning how to control your feelings by remembering the overall goal of the action. Try to deal with fears and angers before the demonstration rather than during it.
6. Be forgiving. Give up resentment over the wrong you are trying to set right. Gandhi said, “Hate sin, and love the sinner.” This applies to conflicts between demonstrators as well as to conflicts with police, workers, onlookers…
7. Work as a team. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Use and rely on the support you can get from other peacekeepers and from your fellow demonstrators.
8. Do your job. If you feel you cannot perform a specific task due to either physical, emotional, or moral reasons, inform a peacekeeper coordinator so that a person can be found to replace you. It is not a disgrace to say “no, I can’t do it.” If you feel you cannot handle yourself nonviolently in a situation, notify another peacekeeper and step away from the conflict. It is better to step out than to risk an escalation of the conflict.
9. Peacekeepers will avoid other responsibilities during the time they ‘on duty” as peacekeepers, This includes caring for children, carrying signs or banners, working at a concession or table, distributing literature for other organizations, etc.
Those who think they are well-equipped to be a peacemaker can meet at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30th at the Teamsters Hall on Division Street, just east of Glenstone.
For questions or more details, contact Lisa Irmen (who lived in Logan-Rogersville) on Facebook. (We do not have an email address for her at this time.)
3) A call for legal observers.
Legal observers (LOs) must be willing to observe and make notes about the demonstrations and actions, including those on both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump sides, as well as police responses in the midst of the demonstrations.
Legal observers cannot chant, wear slogans or buttons, carry signs, etc. The role of the legal observer is to protect the right to protest, and to document any arrests or other police activity with protestors. This may be used in court, so they have to be willing to sign a confidentiality statement after viewing an online training which lasts one hour.
Johnna Boyce is coordinating these efforts. She will answer questions, serve as an LO herself, hand out LO shirts to those who volunteer, and serve as point person for all LOs. It is an important job if the action is large or if there is any attempt to curtail first amendment rights.
These both seem possible tomorrow. For Johnda’s contact information, please email us at brentwoodchristianchurch at gmail dot com.
Finally, as ministers, it is not our role to tell you what to do or how you should be involved in any or all of these activities. We just want to give you information so you can thoughtfully and prayerfully reflect on how (or if) you feel led to be part of these events in Springfield. We are happy to field any questions you might have; lots of these items are coming together rather quickly and we are trying to keep up so we may not know all of the answers to your questions.
All the best to you as all of us prayerfully reflect on how to best witness to Christ’s love, justice and compassion in these times.
Phil and Emily
Brentwood Christian Church
1900 E. Barataria Street
Springfield, MO 65804
“A Movement for Wholeness in a Fragmented World”