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Rising to the Challenge

April 11, 2018

On Sunday, April 8, I got to speak to a packed house at White Plains Presbyterian Church, reminding all gathered that this church has been a catalyst for democracy and a haven for revolutionaries for more than 300 years as local elected and community leaders joined hundreds in welcoming NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who was addressing us on how we can fill in, fight back, and work to create social and economic justice in these challenging times. Here’s what I said:

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Good afternoon. I am The Rev. Jeff Geary, Senior Pastor of the White Plains Presbyterian Church. Let me tell you quickly that bathrooms are available through this door to my right, your left, including an accessible bathroom and a water fountain. There are also bathrooms at the back and down the stairs, as well as a quiet room and place to change a diaper at the back of the sanctuary. We also have an activity table up here at the front of the sanctuary for children to draw and color and occupy their hands as we talk together this afternoon.

For more than 300 years this this congregation has been a catalyst of democracy and a haven for revolutionaries, so it is a delight to welcome you here today.

Our multi-racial congregation – we come from more than 30 countries with many first-generation immigrants – our congregation has identified climate change, structural racism and systemic inequality as the three deadly challenges that our faith calls us to confront in this time and place.

Through partnerships, acts of compassion, direct action, advocacy, and financial support, our church endeavors to be a force for resistance and an agent of change. 

And so we are not just hosts, providing a building, but neighbors prepared to walk together with you and with the many millions who are even now rising up in every corner of this county, state, and nation.

As we listen, and question, and imagine together, know that the lights illumining this space are running on solar power, which provides 80% of our church’s electricity.  And we’re making the opportunity to solarize your congregations, businesses, organizations, and homes available at discounted rates throughout the county.  To learn more about this solarize program, brochures are available near the windows and by the entry at the back of the sanctuary. [www.solarizeourcongregation.org]

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In this time when the very sinews of democracy are under attack, when tyrannical power targets the poorest and most vulnerable among us while undermining the rights of all of us, we remember that “we the people” have always responded to history’s summons with courage and commitment.

From Harriet Tubman’s north star journeys to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from Seneca Falls to Stonewall, we the people have risen to the challenge, no matter how great the odds.

So, as we confront the Goliath of unaccountable power in this time and place, if we should begin to waver and wonder, will it be possible, remember this: we have, we can, and we will.

It is now my distinct honor to introduce Juanita Lewis, Hudson Valley Organizing Director of Community Voices Heard.  Community Voices Heard has been the conscience of this county when it comes to issues of housing, jobs, and transportation.  A woman who helps us create democracy that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people” every day, won’t you join me in welcoming Juanita. 

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