Selma in Newberry

By The Rev. Matthew Titus, Redeemer, Newberry

Yesterday, was a powerful day. I along with folks from the South Carolina Synod Office and a few leaders of the faith community here in Newberry were able to host a Selma Event.

We gathered to watch the movie at the Newberry Opera House.

My biggest fear entering into this day would be that only 5 people would show up. That did not happen. In fact, we believe somewhere between 75-100 people arrived to watch the movie, eat a meal, and have deeper conversation about race, racism, reconciliation, and future opportunities of ministry.

These are some of my thoughts after that day.

I intentionally had not seen this movie.

I think I was afraid to watch it. To see sisters and brothers treated so harshly, wrongfully, and sinfully because of the color of their skin by people who look more like me. It is difficult to watch things like that. I think I was afraid because I didn’t want to see that portrayed on the screen. Perhaps I believed that if I didn’t watch it, somewhere deep inside my mind, I could still believe that it didn’t really happen. Of course, I know that this line of thought is incorrect. These events happened. These events continue to happen.

I’ve wanted to watch this film in a Selma Event setting. I wanted to watch this film gathered with others so that I could talk about it afterwards with people from diverse places. The Selma Event was able to make that happen (24 times now throughout the state since 2015). This isn’t a film to watch alone. I feel it needs to be watched with others so that many can discuss this film and see where God might be leading us. This film, this event invites us to talk, discuss, pray, and act so that something like Selma never needs to happen again.

After the film, we walked together to Redeemer to have a meal and a discussion/bible study.

First – the food was amazing. So good. Sandwiches. Chicken Strips. Chicken Wings. Lemonade. Tea. Salad. It was all so very good. Thank you to all who donated their time, their skill, and their love into all that food!

The conversation was even better. Getting to talk to Norma as we walked. Hearing her story, feeling her heartache as she recounts how she has watched this movie over 20 times at these events, and still it fills her body with so many emotions and how she is brought to tears every time. Talking to Ian, and Leon, and Cindy, and Erin, and Leroy, and Ronald, and so many more.

Over 65 made the journey to Redeemer to have a meal and a conversation. Talking with those who’ve experienced these particular events the film portrays. They shared their experiences as white men, black women, black men, and white women. Hearing those stories floor me as I was not around during this time. It feels me with sadness, and anger, and embarrassment, and at times hopelessness to what transpired.

Around the tables in Redeemer’s Family Life Center conversations drifted around how could this happen; why did and does this happen; what can we do to follow God’s call to move us through these moments and places, so that this will cease to happen.

It was a hard conversation. It was powerful. It was emotional.

Yet, it was a conversation approached through love, faith, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

The work isn’t over. It has just begun. But, thank God we don’t go through it alone!


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