A very important message

Good day siblings in Christ,

I usually take this time to share some upcoming events happening at Our Saviour, but this week I want to share with you some disturbing events that have been transpiring in the area. We often think that “things like that” don’t happen here, until they happen here.

I was informed this afternoon that a caller made threats against our Jewish siblings at Temple Israel. They are about to celebrate their high festival days that bring in lots of attendees. These threats were so serious that the FBI and local police are looking into them. Our siblings have to regularly worship with locked doors and a police presence. Last week, they had to call the police because someone was taking pictures of their doors and windows. None of these are coincidences. There has been an increase in antisemitic threats and actual attacks due to the rise in White Supremacy groups such as the Proud Boys and other such groups. 

We at Our Saviour, not only stand with our Jewish siblings and Rabbi Jaech, but condemn all forms of antisemitic language and actions. Rabbi Jaech is a dear friend and colleague and the fact this is happening to her and her congregation just sickens me. This is beyond politics and has moved to a radical American terrorism. I don’t write that lightly.

This week, I have been also in conversation with a village trustee on how to protect families wishing to go to an event for fun. There is a planned drag show story time at a local bookstore and recent protests and counter protests have gotten bigger each time the event happens. It is getting to the point that it will be dangerous. I was called because I have had three decades of experience with extremists who are anti-LGBTQIA and have worked with other places I’ve lived to provide safety and advocate to protect our 2SLGBTQIA+ siblings. There is real worry about violence, why?

Two weeks ago, a drag story hour event had to be canceled at Buckos in Peekskill due to threats of violence against those participating and a bomb threat to the event itself. I was due to be part of security there and it is the reason I returned from Pinecrest early. I have been participating with other advocacy leaders of the River town villages because of increased threats made against LGBTQIA+ individuals and families.

Some have noticed I have been flying a Pride flag on the parsonage. While there are certainly members of my family and dear friends who are part of the LGBTQIA community, I fly it also to show there is a safe place here. It is not a political statement, but a statement because LGBTQIA+ hate as well as antisemitic rhetoric has been on the rise.

As followers of Jesus and as members of Our Saviour, we must speak out, condemn, and take action when needed, when confronted by hateful speech. We have seen too many acts of violence against our Jewish and LGBTQIA+ siblings to remain silent. This isn’t about politics or Red vs Blue, this is about violence and hatred that is being spoken and acted upon by members within our communities. This is happening right in our own neighborhoods.

I will say that if you hear antisemitic, anti-LGBTQIA+, or racist speech, take it seriously. Ask things like, “did I hear you correctly when you said” or “what did you mean when you said.” Don’t just ignore it. Ignoring it is how we got to the place where we are today. Be advocates, if you are so moved to. Listen to story. Pray for our siblings. Offer help. There are so many ways we can be present for those on the receiving end of hate.

I believe we made the right decision to become a Reconciling in Christ congregation as we stand with our LGBTQIA+ siblings. I believe, as a community, we support our Jewish siblings and will help them where we can. Just don’t be silent when you hear hate speech. It is time to proclaim the love of Christ and move with our words when needed. 

Pastor Johnson