Last week we were blessed to be joined by the Rev. Bob Polk: a wonderful pastor, leader, storyteller, and friend whose journey provides a fascinating glimpse into our American story.
After graduating seminary in Hartford, CT and pastoring a church in North Dakota, Bob received a letter that would dramatically change the course of his life: an invitation to join the staff of the iconic Riverside Church in Manhattan. Bob was at Riverside during a crucial moment in its history as a place that has both led on and struggled with racial and economic justice. As the first African American pastor on staff, part of Bob’s job was develop relevant youth programming not just for the sons and daughters of Riverside’s extremely wealthy patrons (the church was founded by John. D. Rockefellar and he and fellow “fathers of industry” were loyal members), but also for black and Latino young people from public housing in surrounding Harlem. He returned some years later as the church’s director for urban affairs.
If you missed Bob last week, you’re in luck: he will be with us again this Sunday to answer questions and to join for a reflection on what we gained from this month’s Forum and where we should be going as a church as a result.
Additionally, photographs of African American leaders from the UCC – samples from the exhibit curated by Delilah in 2008 – will be on display in the sanctuary. The photographs, accompanying biographies and supplementary materials will celebrate the end of our series and also mark the beginning of the natural next step: further discussion about how integrating and lifting up black history, perspectives and experiences shouldn’t be just reserved for February.
We hope you will join us for important and courageous conversation.
Margaret Ernst, YASC Community Minister