Moral Mondays continue (though they will take the day off on Memorial Day). This week’s protest had the largest number of participants (around 600) and of people taking part in civil disobedience and being arrested (57). I saw a lot of Council folks there – current and past Board members, pastors of congregations (including Covenant Partner congregations), previous staff members, and the heads of some of our member bodies. I saw Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church and Nancy Petty of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church; there may have been others. All were there to object to the direction the General Assembly is taking our state – on public education, access to voting, tax justice, adequate funding for state programs, support of vulnerable people, and the death penalty, among others.
One Council person who was there and who got arrested was Ron LaRocque. Ron is the pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Winston-Salem and an active member of the Council’s Christian Unity Committee. He wrote this report to his congregation:
Those who follow the church’s Facebook page already know that I was arrested on Monday. For those who were not aware, let me fill you in: The NAACP is sponsoring a series of “Moral Mondays” to protest recent actions by the North Carolina General Assembly. I joined in this protest to speak out against the immoral and unjust laws either being considered or already passed by our legislature – laws which further disenfranchise our state’s most vulnerable citizens while enriching the already-wealthy and further empowering the already-powerful.
Even though I knew there was a high probability I would be arrested, the experience was unsettling. Yet my resolve was strengthened when I and the others risking arrest arrived outside the Legislative Building and were met by over 500 supporters. As I prepared to enter the building, peace came over me when one of my colleagues from the NC Council of Churches literally reached out his hand in support. While I was sitting on the bus with my hands cuffed behind my back waiting to be transported to jail, anxiety diminished when I heard the cheering, singing, and chanting of those who came to bear us up. Joy increased when, upon my release, I immediately received handshakes, words of thanks, and the offer of food and drink. Calm returned when I arrived home and was greeted by a tired and relieved husband. A sense of accomplishment prevailed when I read the many words of encouragement on Facebook.
Not everyone is called to participate in an act of civil disobedience. Still, we can all work toward the cause of justice in different ways. For those who encouraged and supported me, your words, posts, and actions played an important role, enabling me to take the action I took. You too worked for justice. I am exceedingly grateful.
I’m grateful too, Ron, for those of you who have protested what’s happening in our state through civil disobedience and arrest and for the remarkable number of people of faith who have stepped up to support you-all and to voice their own anger and dismay.
After a week off, Moral Mondays will resume on June 3.
–George Reed, Executive Director