Reasons to Hope in 2017

The months since the election have been, for many, a roller coaster of emotions, and this is as true in the church as anywhere else. When the Mayflower staff chose “hope” as the theme for worship and programs this Advent season, we had no idea how scarce hope would appear for so many. When anger and fear spread so easily, where does our hope come from?

From experience, we know that the power of organized people is great source of hope. We must resist the urge to forget even small victories in our post-election despair. Across the country, faith-based and community-based organizations pressed for public debate of issues such as the minimum wage, policing reform, clean energy, better lending practices.

Three 2016 victories very close to home stand out and remind us where we can have an impact:

  • Standing Rock: We stood with tribal leaders and environmental organizations like MN Interfaith Power and Light to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline being built close to the reservation and the Missouri River, ultimately polluting the earth with dangerous fossil fuel emissions. In Hennepin County, we helped lead the call for our Sheriff to bring back the special ops and vehicles he sent to brutalize the water protectors. Mayflower members have made phone calls, send emails, signed petitions, and even traveled to Standing Rock in the days leading up to the Army Corps’ major announcement that the permit to dig near the reservation was denied.
  • Earned Sick and Safe Time: In the spring, Mayflower and St Joan of Arc worked with ISAIAH to achieve robust ordinances in Minneapolis and St Paul that guarantees workers paid days off in the event of illness, snow days, or domestic violence. A hundred people came to our community forum with Council Members Quincy and Palmisano, and it made all the difference!
  • Sanctuary: Following the election, ISAIAH churches responded faithfully to the fear of immigrants facing deportation. Thirty congregations have committed to explore becoming Sanctuary or Sanctuary Supporting Congregations – this includes Mayflower, which decided by vote of the church council at Easter time to be a Sanctuary Supporting church. See the Star Tribune’s excellent coverage!

While none of these issues is resolved, these are examples of faithful people organizing to make huge strides toward justice. I look to a wonderful article by the writer Barbara Kingsolver about how we need to step up even if we feel depressed or afraid. “We refuse to disappear,” she says. “We keep our commitments to fairness in front of the legislators who oppose us, lock arms with the ones who are with us, and in the words of Congressman John Lewis, prepare to get in some good trouble.”

Where does our hope come from? The truth we know deep in our souls that God’s dream of justice simply will not let us go. May the New Year bring us many more reasons to hope and may we do our part to make it so.

—Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries