“Now I want to be clear that when I’m talking about love, I’m not just talking about love for people who have committed crimes like we may have committed, crimes that we think are not so bad; I’m talking about the kind of care and love that keeps on loving no matter who you are or what you have done. It’s that kind of love that is needed to build this movement.” (Michelle Alexander)
In the 1920s, with the fundamentalist-modernist controversy raging within his own Northern Baptist Convention, John D. Rockefeller built an architecturally imposing church in the heart of one of New York’s most prestigious neighborhoods, opened it to people of all Christian denominations and called an American Baptist preacher named Harry Emerson Fosdick to be his pastor. Through the years, Riverside Church has become associated with prophetic preaching, dramatic worship and ecumenical mission.
In 1992, Riverside Church adopted a statement of faith proclaiming: “the worship of God, known in Jesus, the Christ, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit … to serve God through word and witness, to treat all human beings as sisters and brothers; and to foster responsible stewardship of God’s creation … The church pledges itself to education, reflection, and action for peace and justice and the realization of the vision of the heavenly banquet where all are loved and blessed.”
This statement of faith nicely captures the conclusion of Michelle Alexander’s address at Riverside this past weekend. Calling for “A great awakening” Alexander re-stated her firm belief that only a new social movement can end mass incarceration in America. As her closing remarks make clear, this movement must be built on a solid moral foundation and, for those of us who follow Jesus, that means taking our Savior at his word. (more…)