Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Reflection - Out of the Ashes Comes Hope

Early on Wednesday, November 5, 2008 A fire destroyed the predominately African-American Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, MA

The $2.5 million church was under construction - the church was razed by arsonists hours after President Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first black leader on Nov. 4, 2008

Fire Photos by Dennis Leger

33 volunteers from a church and a synagogue in California traveled to Springfield last week at their own expense to help the regular construction crew rebuild.

“It’s bittersweet. We wish we were doing it just to help build and not to rebuild,” said a member of the Arson Rebuild Work Team of Santa Barbara. The California group is the third team of volunteers that has come to the city this month, including one other from the West Coast and another from Chicago.

Volunteers from religious groups in California re-build Springfield church destroyed by fire.

Photo by Mark M. Murray / The Republican

Photo by Mark M. Murray / The Republican

Judi Koper and her daughter Hannah, both with Temple B'Nai B'rith of Santa Barbara Calif, volunteered Thursday to help rebuild. They have traveled throughout the deep South, helping to rebuild churches torched in the name of racism.

“This is our first venture up North,” she said, wiping sweat from her brow after hours of frame work at the nearly completed church.

The church was burned to the ground in a spectacular blaze set by three city men who lived nearby, according to federal and state investigators who probed the fire. Two defendants – 23 and 22 -have pleaded guilty to arson in federal court and are awaiting sentencing. A third defendant, 25, is poised for trial in the fall.

The men admitted harboring a hatred for blacks and Hispanics, and that they set fire to the church to denounce Obama’s election. They told investigators they crept through the woods in the middle of the night, climbed through a window and doused the church with gasoline, then set it ablaze.

A volunteer from the Congregation B’nai B’rith, also in Santa Barbara, said the effort is as much about the message as the bricks and mortar.

“We’re here trying to right what three hateful people did,” she said. “To show people that we will not allow injustice and hate to stand.”

For Bishop Bryant Robinson Jr., leader of the predominantly black Macedonia church, it seems that from the ashes has come a small miracle of human spirit.


Lamentations 3:21 - 24

Hope returns when I remember this one thing: the Lord's unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have , and so in him I put my hope.

With so many senseless acts of violence and hatred happening in the world every day I choose to concentrate on the love demonstrated by those who continue to reach out to others, as in the words of the volunteer - “To show people that we will not allow injustice and hate to stand.”


based on an article in the Springfield Republican Newspaper

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