Leader Letter

Subscribing congregations should share this letter with congregational leaders.  Being oriented to the month’s theme, and equipped to help others in the congregation get aligned with it, builds the whole congregation’s engagement with the theme.  Which, of course, means unity and energy for the community.

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Dear Friends,

Almost twenty years ago, I spent a year in South Africa.  Living in graduate student housing, I shared meals and late night conversations with other students from all over the African continent, and got to hear about political dynamics that had seemed far-away and obscure to me, prior to that. 

A few of the people in my housing complex were Zimbabwean, and I was especially fascinated to hear their take on things.  I heard about their president, Robert Mugabe.  I'd understood him as a heroic leader, leading the old colonial Rhodesia into the newly-liberated Zimbabwe, and establishing a sustainable country.  But what I heard was that, from those who had previously revered him, something had changed.  Mugabe, formerly clear and inspiring, had become paranoid, controlling, and erratic.  Zimbabwe, formerly a model of post-colonial Africa, was now devolving into chaos, with high inflation and political infighting. 

This past fall, years later, in 2018, the military removed Robert Mugabe, whose last almost-thirty years of chaotic rule had erased the success of the his first decade in power.  While it was the military who effected the overthrow, really, it was the steadiness of those in Zimbabwe brave enough to lead the opposition who can take credit for fighting for their country, and wresting it away from a strongman.  My thoughts turn not to these freedom fighters in this recent year, as Mugabe's power ebbed, but to those same people fifteen years ago, and more, when it was not clear at all that they would win in the end.  How can a person sustain the posture of resistance?  How can a movement rise up in resistance?  In the presence of control over media, governance, and finances, when resistance seems to have very few tools at hand, and even less power, what are the forms that resistance can take? 

This month, Faith Rocket's theme is "resistance."  We reflect on this theme as the United States marks the first anniversary of the Trump presidency.  But not every subscriber to Faith Rocket lives in the United States.  And, indeed, the dynamics of rising fascism, fueled by nativism and racism, are a global phenomenon, seen in every country.  What does it take to resist?  How can we find the power and solidarity and hope to persist?  There are no easy answers.  But I know that people, fifteen years ago, in Zimbabwe, did not give up, didn't relent in their desire for liberation for every person in their country.  And so neither can we.  May this month's materials nourish you, strengthen you, and give you what you need to keep fighting.

Faithfully,

Jake

Faithfully,

Jake

Rev. Jake Morrill
Lead Minister ORUUC
Executive Director UUCF
Launchpad Partner