Guest Op-Ed: Social Justice and Equality

We, the gathered Alliance of Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, in conjunction with the  Chelsea City Manager, the Superintendent of Chelsea Public Schools, the Chelsea Black Community, the Chelsea Chief of Police and other leaders, in the first week of June in 2020, are moved to unity by the current national climate in the wake of the senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others in this nation. This horrific tragedy, in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, has laid bare the inequities and injustices long-endured for generations in our nation by black and brown people and their families. 

All of our Holy Scriptures (the Torah, the Holy Bible, and the Quran,) call us to love one another without regard to race, color, background, and age. Therefore, we make the following statement together in solemn unity with our Creator for justice and mercy for everyone: 

WE RECOGNIZE that one beauty of Chelsea is our differences and how we co-exist together to create our Beloved Community. Let us rise to the occasion and be a model where we honor and love each other. A part of that love is to say to our black brothers and sisters and people of color, we stand with you in unity. We are one. 

WE ACKNOWLEDGE the systemic nature of racism, poverty, social and economic injustices, endured primarily by those of color in our society, as well as those who fall victim to brutality or mistreatment of any kind. But, we also urge those who desperately seek change and transformation to do so by peaceful means. 

WE SEE you, we love you, and we stand with you. As we have come together in the COVID-19 crisis, the great city that we are and have proven ourselves to be. The COVID-19 was a backdrop that brought us together as a City, and now we have another opportunity to use what we learned in the pandemic and apply it to this current national crisis. 

WE COMMIT TO UPHOLD the rights, values, and respect of all members of the Beloved Community to gather together, to speak up, and voice our pain and concerns in ways that may make some uncomfortable. Times of trial are often fiery, and real change only comes after great upheaval. But, we rely upon the Almighty to help us be instruments of this change in a peaceful and merciful way. 

WE ARE THANKFUL for the City of Chelsea, where residents born and immigrated here have long stood as a shining example of tolerance and civility amidst much economic and racial diversity. 

WE DEDICATE ourselves to continued understanding and sensitivity to racial dynamics in our nation and community, acknowledging the many biases we all are burdened with. 

WE COMMIT, as a community of faith and civic leaders to find opportunities for self-reflection and a collective dialogue, to listen openly to one another even those who may not share our humanitarian views or values, but who seek reconciliation, by acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our G-d. OUR CALL TO ACTION is to gather, listen, respond, grieve and mourn the needs of those who feel they are the voiceless in our city and create a plan of action. Only by doing this can we become a country with voices of peace, actors of mercy, and administrators of justice. 

IN CONCLUSION, WE PRAY for a continued strengthening of the bonds of fellowship for the whole of the City. We pray that in this era of discord that we may be instruments of our Creator in the process of change and healing for our City and nation in these times. AMEN!(Declaration of Faith & Unity by the Chelsea Interfaith Alliance and Chelsea City Leaders for Social Justice and Equality. As delivered to the Chelsea City Council on June 15, 2020 at City Hall by Rev. Sandra Whitley, Father James Sheridan, Kourou Pich, Paul Nowicki, Pastor Eliot Penn, Father Hilario Saenez, Roseann Bongiovanni, School Committee Chair Kelly Garcia, Joe Mahoney, Molly Baldwin, Pastor Ricardo Valle, Joan Cromwell and Supt. Almi Abeyta.)

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