Since before the US Constitution was ratified with our Bill of Rights, Baptists have led the way in advocating for freedom of religion for all people, especially those in the minority of beliefs. In fact, one of the primary voices in the writing of the First Amendment and a prominent abolitionist, John Leland, preached to First Baptist folks in Worcester in 1812. As we were just founding as a local congregation (society) that year, our earliest members suffered persecution for their Baptist faith. In fact, the first time our building was burned down, it was suspected to be the work of agitators who were opposed to our church’s right to worship. We knew what it was like to suffer for our beliefs as an extreme minority in Worcester at that time.
For at least a hundred years now, and most likely for longer, our church has been comprised of people from many different nations and backgrounds. Today, our church is filled with those who have personally immigrated to this country for opportunity or for refuge, and with those who are family members–second and third generations–of those who have.
Because of our own experience in our beginning as a church, because of who makes up this great church now, and because it is the Way of Jesus to know and love those who are pushed to the margins of society, we are, and will continue to be, a church who is a safe space for all people, including and especially our immigrant and refugee siblings. Further, we must and will stand in support of, and in solidarity with, our Jewish and Muslim neighbors who are suffering intimidation, threats, fear, and violence against property and people.
Hate will have no home here.
For love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.
So begin awakening, friends.
How can we do and be more for our neighbors, beyond simply our words?