The “Black Lives Matter” flag honors De’Von Bailey in entrance of the church in Colorado Springs David Ramsey | Colorado Springs Information
A flag with the words “Black Lives Matter” is blowing in the wind on Union Boulevard and Montebello Drive. Don’t expect the flutter to end anytime soon.
Rev. Clare Twomey hoisted the flag over Vista Grande Community Church on the morning of August 6 in response to De’Von Bailey’s death on the night of August 3. Bailey, who wore a gun in his shorts, was shot four times while escaping the Colorado Springs police.
What are Twomey and her church trying to say by hoisting the flag?
“I’ll see you,” she replies. “We are watching you. We are going to hold you, Mayor (John) Suthers and the police department, accountable for what happened. This is a matter of justice. We are not going to leave this behind like so many before have done. “
She boldly preaches social justice from her pulpit at the western end of a simple, beautiful sanctuary. The building designed by Elizabeth Wright Ingraham is one of the architectural treasures in Colorado Springs.
Twomey runs a “purple church” of Republicans, Democrats, and members ages 6 to 93.
Outside the walls of Vista Grande, voices speak against the blending of social justice and gospel.
“I beg you to search for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your website,” wrote conservative commentator Glenn Beck. “If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice are code words. Do I advise people now to leave their church? Yes!”
For many Christians in Colorado Springs, sitting in church every Sunday means hearing stories of Moses and Jacob and King David, the apostles, and the miracles and goodness of Jesus. The lessons from these stories are powerful, but these lessons are not explicitly incorporated into the American climate of 2019.
In the pulpit of Vista Grande, the Bailey tragedy is examined in sermons that also mention Jesus. Here the distant past and 2019 merge.
Twomey is sitting on the first floor of Vista with her dog Crackerjack. She is serious, yes, sometimes a little serious, but she also laughs a lot. She worries little about critics. She is too busy burdening the comfortable. (And one of the comfortable ones is Twomey.) This suffering is central to her message.
For them, the gospel, which reveals the essence of Jesus, is closely related to social justice. The two belong together. They cannot be separated.
“When we truly identify as Christians, that is, people who follow Jesus in the life and teachings of Jesus, we are forced to act in such a way that everyone, especially the other, the marginalized, the marginalized, is uplifted , the people who are oppressed by a system of oppression. That’s social justice, ”she says.
“… I think that’s how we define ourselves. We must stand up for those who have no voice and who are marginalized. For me, that’s what defines Christian. That defines who I am as a Christian. Otherwise I don’t live in it. If I’m only here for the people in my church, then I’m not doing my job. “
Two years ago Vista Grande placed the words “Black Lives Matter” in the marquee in front of the building. Someone who protested the news used a black magic marker to mark the glass and hide the word “black”. The objection only left “Lives Matter”.
“Thank goodness they didn’t use a permanent marker,” she says. She quickly removed the markings.
The church has received several phone calls protesting the Black Lives Matter flag. No one, says Twomey, was aggressively threatening. Callers wonder why the church did not mention that the life of the police or all life is important.
“A marginalized group is demanding justice and somehow that threatens the status quo, right?” Asks Twomey. “While I would never argue that all lives are important or that blue lives are important – I mean, duh, we already know that – I would argue that this is not a legitimate answer to black lives.”
The last protest against the flag arrived in the church’s email box late Monday evening.
“Will you soon be flying a WHITE LIVES MATTER FLAG or God forbid an American flag !!!! How about ALL LIVES MATTER ??? God would not approve, ”the email said.
Twomey replied quickly.
“Thank you for your email regarding our flag,” begins her note. “I’m glad you noticed.”