Students reflect on powerful experience at national Unity Gathering

For Master of Divinity students Foster Frimpong and Amanda Groves, being selected to represent Lexington Theological Seminary at the National Council of Churches Christian Unity Gathering this past October was a remarkable, timely and sacred experience. More than 35 ecumenical communions, including national and international leaders and more than 20 seminaries, came together for this assembly in Hampton, Va.

The meeting focused on ending racism by confronting our past, revisiting our present and naming God’s preferred future and was centered on 400th anniversary of the arrival of slaves from the continent of Africa on the Virginia shore. On the second day, the participants went to Old Point Comfort, the area of land at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula which marks the memorable ground where the first twenty enslaved Africans landed from their ships in America. The Unity Gathering group processed to the Historic Marker led by people carrying flowers of remembrance for the 21 slaves who survived the treacherous trip across the ocean after being ripped from their homes and families. The group erected a natural altar using an aged tree and placed Black-eyed susans among the tree’s roots and branches to represent justice. It was a holy time of repentance, lamentation, reflection and ecumenical commitment to justice. The group discussed the need to face the issue of the systemic sin of racism and to not only talk about it, but to take action, because God’s people are suffering across the world—including in our own communities.

A note from Foster: “I am so grateful for this opportunity. First, the chance to meet with national and world church leaders who are at the forefront of combating racism, justice, and advocacy which are ravaging God’s colorful-children and the environment. Second, it has motivated me to grab a vision for the future—to commit to leading through justice and advocacy and also committing to the voice ‘End Racism.'”

A note from Amanda: “I was so excited to attend this event because I recently became involved with the Kentucky Council of Churches. I was blessed to meet not only Christians from many traditions, but to also have the opportunity to fellowship with the leadership of the Disciples of Christ—which is at the forefront of the ecumenical movement. I left the assembly with a sense of hope and excitement for the future of the Body of Christ and a renewed sense of our purpose of bringing God’s love, peace, mercy, and JUSTICE to humanity.”