EAD 2017: Confronting Chaos, Forging Community
Fifteenth National Gathering in our nation’s capital focused on the challenges of, and solutions to, racism, materialism and militarism
APRIL 21-24, 2017
DOUBLETREE HOTEL CRYSTAL CITY & WASHINGTON, D.C.
When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. posed the question, “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?” in his book of the same title 50 years ago, no one could have imagined that we would still be wrestling with this question today. In that same year on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before Dr. King was assassinated, he spoke at Riverside Church in New York addressing the intersectionality of “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism” as the principal challenges of the time. Five decades later, Dr. King’s prophetic insights and challenges – and the stark choice between chaos and community — are incredibly current.
Sadly, we have witnessed chaos in many of our communities, challenging us as people of faith to speak and act boldly and courageously to end racism, materialism and militarism.
Over the past year, our nation has experienced a divisive election in which racism, xenophobia, and religious bigotry were a constant. We still find racism an open wound in our nation, resulting in the disproportionate killing of black and brown bodies and stunting their lives through unjust economic and social structures. The militarization of our police is a reflection not only of broken communal values, but also a lopsided foreign policy that spends drastically more on defense than diplomacy or development. Militarism continues to be the United States’ overriding approach to resolving conflict, despite studies that show the effectiveness of peacebuilding and the power of non-violence. Extreme materialism threatens our souls and our very planet, as prosperity narratives and unchecked capitalism spreads despite overwhelming scientific evidence that our current path is unstainable. As in Dr. King’s time, we teeter precariously between chaos and community.
A new time calls for new strategies. The dynamic movement of people of faith and conscience today to challenge these “giant triplets” of chaos is taking different forms from those of the civil rights era. But the same courage and commitment to bring about national and social transformation animates the new generation of activists. This year’s EAD gathering will address racism/white privilege, economic injustice and militarization at home and abroad.
In our annual National Gathering, Ecumenical Advocacy Days focused on the theme “Confronting Chaos, Forging Community“ from April 21-24, 2017. We grappled with the intersectionality of racism, materialism, and militarism, and learned more about the impact they have around the world, in our communities, and in our own lives. Through prayer, worship, advocacy training, and networking with other Christians, we faced the current manifestations of these ‘triplets’ and together advocated for change in public policy that better reflects the Beloved Community about which Dr. King spoke. After a weekend filled with education and training and a prayer vigil at the Pentagon, the event culminated with a Lobby Day on Monday, April 24, 2017, where participants converged on Capitol Hill to meet with their Members of Congress and Senators. Also on Lobby Day, a group of dozens of Christian clergy and lay leaders and advocates participated in a prayerful witness and civil disobedience in a Senate office building, rejecting the budget proposal of President Trump which calls for reduction in human needs spending at home and abroad to pay for sharp and unnecessary increases in Pentagon spending.
At EAD 2017, we were renewed by the revolutionary spirit of Jesus and Dr. King. We also affirmed the Scriptural vision of a day when ‘Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.’” (Isa: 40:3)