Lutheran Church in Montgomery Starts Dialogue About ‘Black Lives Matter’

James Johnson speaks with Larry Menkes and Dan Meyer during table discussions at Trinity Lutheran Church’s “Can We Talk?” event about racism and the Black Lives Matter sign posted in front of the church. Eric Fitzsimmons — Montgomery Media
James Johnson speaks with Larry Menkes and Dan Meyer during table discussions at Trinity Lutheran Church’s “Can We Talk?” event about racism and the Black Lives Matter sign posted in front of the church. Eric Fitzsimmons — Montgomery Media

A contentious debate on Trinity Lutheran Church’s use of the message “Black Lives Matter” on one of its street signs inspired the Rev. Paul Lutz to invite the public to a discussion Sept. 9 about the slogan and racism in the community. 

In a letter to the community, Lutz said the church had received insults through phone and email since putting the sign up and heard from people who saw the slogan, “Black Lives Matter,” as a stand against law enforcement and a means to divide people. As a response, he offered, “Can we talk?” as a way to confront the misunderstanding and the continuing issues of racism.

“We saw this was an opportunity, even though this was not what we were looking for or what we wanted or expected, it was an opportunity to have a conversation,” Lutz said. “Tonight is to talk about why did that slogan upset you so much and what might we do about it here in Lansdale.”

Lutz said he saw a way also to teach civil discussion by establishing ground rules such as “speak for yourself, rather than as a member of a group” and to remember the Holy Spirit “has given each participant a part of the truth you are seeking to discern.” The rules were handed out to attendees as they entered and read at the beginning of the presentation.

A panel of five speakers, including members of Trinity Church, a pastor from Philadelphia and a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, began the discussion and were followed by an invitation to members of the audience to come forward if they felt their perspective or opinion had not been voiced.

Nearly all the speakers in the panel and from the audience expressed support for the movement. They spoke about personal experiences with racism and what the black lives matter slogan means to them.

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Source: Montgomery News | Eric Fitzsimmons

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