Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Church Parking Lots and Protests

On Saturday (April 27th) my wife and I participated in a free boxes of food distribution in Brooklyn Center.  We were responding to the call from Twin Cities labor groups to help pass out food at Brooklyn Center High School (I wish clergy could join labor groups as allies for affiliation, kind of like Third Order Franciscans).  Since the killing of Daunte Wright many of the local food shelves and nonprofit organizations have been closed due to the nightly protests (the protests have dwindled for the moment).  

This was my first visit to Brooklyn Center since the killing.  I had watched the protests online (Unicorn Riot and Andrew Mercado provide live coverage on YouTube and Facebook).  I could not believe the amount of tear gas and pepper spray law enforcement unleashed on the protesters.  You could tell that the protests were near apartment complexes, but when I was there in person I was shocked how close they are.  I couldn't believe the massive amount of force that was trampling through a residential neighborhood.  

Late one night, around midnight I could tell the protesters were all retreating to one locale, the parking lot of Lutheran Church of the Master (Missouri Synod, if you are curious).  For the first few nights law enforcement met the protesters on the street, in front of the police station, and "moved" them away from the station.  The protesters were forced into the apartment parking lots, strip mall parking lots and into the parking lot of Lutheran Church of the Master .  

Law enforcement sought to arrest everyone who was out past curfew, but there was one location they could not pursue the protesters: the parking lot of Lutheran Church of the Master . The parking lot was, literally, "sanctuary."  A judge would not issue a warrant to arrest the protesters as long as they were on church property!  It was like a scene from the European Middle Ages: refugees fleeing from the law, entering a cathedral and declaring "SANCTUARY!"  

If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of church parking lots; especially when they are used solely as the temporary storage of cars.  But I am a fan of church parking lots that are multi-use centers. But I never thought I would witness church parking lots as sanctuary zones.   

Near 38th and Chicago, George Floyd Square, there are two churches: Worldwide Outreach for Christ (kitty-corner from the site of George Floyd's murder) and Calvary Lutheran Church (one block south of George Floyd Square). 

Over the past 300+ days both congregations have used their parking lots in ways other than the temporary storage of vehicles.  Worldwide Outreach for Christ has used their parking lot for worship services, location for public addresses or news conferences, cookouts, medical services, & etc.  Calvary Lutheran Church used their parking lot for food, clothing, and voter registration drives, gathering spot for protesters and respite.  

These parking lots will continue to be locales of importance as the three other police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd goes to trial and as the officer involved in the killing of Daunte Wright goes to trial.  It is my hope that these churches and faith communities will join the protesters in chanting, 

Whose Streets?  Our Streets!  

That streets (and parking lots) are avenues of life, not death.  

Friday, April 9, 2021

Minnesota Cathedral Bike Route

A few years ago as I prepared the pilgrimage route in Scotland and England my family would walk I kept thinking how come there are no pilgrimage routes in the United States?  

I have been working on an urban pilgrimage route from Cathedral of St. Paul (in St. Paul) to the Basilica of St Mary in Minneapolis.  I will release this route for feedback and suggestions later this summer (once herd immunity is reached - need bathroom stops, water fill ups, lunch and beer, prayer stations/guide, & etc).  

I'd also love for there to be a walking/pilgrimage trail from Minneapolis to Collegeville, MN (to St. John's Monastery).  I've mapped out a biking route for this, but you can't replace the rhythm of walking.  But the Brits have a great idea: a Cathedral Bike Route.  All 42 of England's cathedrals in a 2,000 mile loop, but they have broken down into easy loops too.

This made me think, what about a Minnesota cathedral loop?  Minnesota has plenty of cathedrals that are close to the Twin Cities (and others that are not).  Here is my idea for a 2-3 day bike packing pilgrimage route.  

Two Episcopal Cathedrals, Three Catholic Cathedrals.  This does not need to be limited to Christian cathedrals, it's just a starting point.  But I think cathedrals might be a good first step toward establishing more of a bike packing culture that is not centered on gravel biking.  

Friday, April 2, 2021

Walking, Bicycling, Public Transit & Faith Communities News Roundup

The greatest contribution this week was an article in America magazine by John W. Miller, "Meet your bicycle: the transportation incarnation of Catholic Social Teaching." It's a great article.  I read it and thought for a moment, "Did this person get a copy of my manuscript somehow? Were we separated at birth? Can we hang out?"  Pope Francis, Elly Blue, Carlton Reid + faith organizations using bikes as a means for social justice.  Read this article!  

April 1st was also the start or #30daysofbiking.  Grab your bike, pledge, ride for thirty days and share your stories via social media.  Use the above hashtag and join in on the fun.  Maybe you can be like Brett Feldman who took the challenge five years ago and never stopped...

I usually try to write a blessing for this event.  This year, I let it slip.  So here is an unofficial one for al the 30 days of biking pedalers.

May you spin, not grind
May you smile, not scowl
May your brakes grab and wheels turn true
May you be seen and may you see
May squirrels, chipmunks, crows, snakes, and dogs give way
and may you transform the world and yourself
as you emit not carbon, but love.

Yesterday, US Department of Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, caused quite a stir when he rode part way to the cabinet meeting.  

Did he ride the whole way?  No.  Does it matter?  No.  Because there have been plenty of times I have ridden partway.  The important symbol and act was that the Transportation Secretary rode a bike to the full cabinet meeting!  

That's wrap for news this week.  If you have other links and stories please send them to me.  And now for your listening pleasure, Les Bicyclettes de Belsize by Engelbert Humperdinck: