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Minister and President’s Message

Amistad story is about the soul of the United Church of Christ

Nancy S. TaylorMay, 2003
By Nancy S. Taylor

The story of the 53 Mendi captives who rose up against their oppressors - the Amistad story - is about the soul of the United Church of Christ. This is so because freedom from slavery is a fundamental interest of our God. The God of the Exodus loves and liberates slaves and Jesus was sent “to proclaim release to the captives…and to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” (Luke 4: 18)

No wonder that an abolitionist heart beat in the breasts of early Congregationalists. It was on the basis of profound Christian convictions that they raised money, raised their voices in legislatures and courts of law, raised consciousness through sermons and tracts, and raised up prayers to participate in the Underground Railroad, free slaves and end slavery. Let those who proclaim an aversion to “church and politics” take note: the politics of abolition, like that of the civil rights movement (and, indeed, the politics of all movements of human liberation), is a profoundly churchly business.

In March all 430 UCC congregations in Massachusetts received an Amistad mailing. This included a beautiful poster, a bulletin insert, and a letter. A mailing was sent to both your church moderator and pastor. The letter gives specific details of the Amistad’s visit and outlines our need to raise $90,000. Thus far, largely by individual donations, we have raised over $15,000. Now we need to hear from the churches. We are seeking 100% participation from our churches for this historic and important project.

How can your church support the Amistad’s visit? Allocate a gift from your mission, outreach or church budget. Organize a fundraising event. Take up a special offering. Solicit individual contributions. A member of the congregation might be moved to issue a matching challenge. Your church might have a special fund that could provide a grant.

Any gift is welcome, appreciated, and received with deep gratitude. Checks can be made out to MACUCC and marked “Amistad.”

Visit our Amistad resource section for more information.

Thanks, in no small part to our forebears in the faith, the moral argument against slavery has been won. Yet slavery still exists. There are millions of enslaved people around the world today, victims of a global $7 billion-a-year business. Some are born into slavery; others are trapped by debt, or lured into bondage, or sold into it, or abducted…or some terrible combination of these.

My heart is heavy with the knowledge of slavery in the Sudan, India, Mauritania and Bangladesh. My heart breaks when I read the CIA’s report on slave trafficking in the United States.

When the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ brings the Freedom Schooner Amistad to Boston Harbor, October 14-26, 2003 we will all have opportunity to learn more about the tragic phenomenon of modern day slavery. Indeed, we will have opportunity to learn together and talk together about a wide range of issues of race and justice.

Why work so hard and raise money to bring the Amistad to Boston Harbor? The following, is the mission statement of the Amistad to Boston Host Committee:

Amistad to Boston will inspire citizens of New England to recommit themselves to the public virtues (values) of courage, liberty and equality for all people in our time. It retells the story of Africans, kidnapped and held captive on the Schooner Amistad, rebelling, then imprisoned in 1839. American patriots, including John Quincy Adams, won their freedom in the United Sates Supreme Court in 1841.

“We will encourage students and adults to visit the Amistad in Boston Harbor, October 14-26. We will provide an array of cultural and educational programs focusing on the Amistad Incident and its implication for reflection and action on modern day slavery, racism and injustice.”

We can only fulfill this churchly mission with the financial, spiritual, and prayerful support of our churches.

Con amistad y en fe (With friendship and in faith).

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