Apostle Sarah Kelley, Pastor of Faith Hope & Love Church of Deliverance, leads in the singing of "Go Down Moses" at Ft. Monroe to end the Charlottesville to Jamestown Pilgrimage.
On Saturday, October 13, thirty-two pilgrims traveled to Jamestown and walked the final three miles along the Virginia Capital Trail to Historic Jamestowne. There, Mark Summers of Preservation Virginia gave us a no-holds-barred history of the what the first enslaved Africans experienced, and what has been obscured in the "popular" telling of the history of Jamestown. After that, we traveled to Fort Monroe (Fort Comfort) where Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander presented the history of the fort, both as the landing site of the first ships carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia, and later as the "Freedom's Fortress" that provided sanctuary for escaping slaves during the Civil War. We ended our pilgrimage by re-reading the 360 names of the enslaved at Monticello, to connect the dots between Charlottesville and Jamestowne/Ft. Monroe.
On Friday, October 12, thirty-nine pilgrims made the trek to Richmond, Virginia to walk the Trail of the Enslaved. We first were welcomed by Rev. Molly Bosscher, Associate Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. We were then led by Janine Bell and her team at the Elegba Folklore Society on an interactive, experiential walking tour on the trail of the enslaved. After the tour, we returned to St. Paul's for lunch and for small group debriefing led by Rev. Ben Campbell, Pastor Emeritus of Richmond Hill, and Abigail Ballew and Allan Charles-Chipman of Initiatives of Change Richmond VA.
Last Thursday, we had the privilege of having Mark Charles come and give a lecture on "The Heresy of Christendom and the Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery as part of our Cville2Jtown Pilgrimage. Below is the video of his lecture, and an interview with Mark afterwards.
On Saturday, October 6, over one hundred pilgrims walked from the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, through Market St. Park and the Slave Auction Block, to Monticello. At Monticello, the pilgrims held a brief ceremony at the African American Graveyard and then went up to Mulberry Row where the names of 360 enslaved at Monticello were read aloud.
Dr. Karenne Wood, a member of the Monacan Indian Nation and an anthropologist gave a presentation called, "Stone, Bone, and Clay: Virginia Indians’ History of 18,000 Years." She examined the deep history of American Indian presence in what we now call Virginia. This presentation was co-sponsored by the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights and the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA.
Michael Cheuk, Secretary for the Charlottesville Clergy Collective offered this welcome to the Cville2Jtown pilgrims at the Jefferson School.
Welcome to the first day of the Charlottesville to Jamestown Pilgrimage!
This Pilgrimage was the brainchild of Rev Jan Rivero, retired pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church. She was inspired by the Rev. William Barber II, who preached at First United Methodist Church last year and mentioned that Jamestown/Ft. Monroe was the location of the landing of the first ship that carried the enslaved from Africa to the colonies. Rev. Rivero wondered “What would it be like to connect the dots of racial injustice from Jamestown to Charlottesville?”
This pilgrimage is our attempt to connect the dots by offering a physical, spiritual, and communal journey spanning one week. During this time, we will learn and hear the untold histories and stories of enslaved Africans here in Charlottesville, Richmond, Jamestown and Ft. Monroe. We will learn about the 18,000 year history of the Monacan Tribe here in Virginia. For those of us who are Christian, we also have to confront Christianity’s role in constructing unjust systems and policies that we now describe as white supremacy over native peoples, black people, and other peoples of color.
We live in a time where our society is deeply fractured, divided and antagonistic towards “the other.”
Mark Charles once said, “Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.”
On this day, as we walk to Monticello, we take the first steps in creating a common memory by raising the humanity of the enslaved at Monticello. As we walk together, may we also embrace the humanity of one another, a common humanity that transcends the color of our skin, that spans the differences in our ethnic identities, our religious or non-religious beliefs, our gender identities, our sexual orientations, our socio-economic and educational backgrounds, our political affiliations, and all other categories we’ve used to divide us.
As I walk, I need to remember that I’m not marching to signal my own virtue and to display my “wokeness.” No, I walk today as a Pilgrim seeking transformation: confessing my racial bias, my complicity in injustice, and my need for repentance. May my heart break, so that space can be created to include those who are not with us: especially our black and native sisters and brothers, the marginalized, the undocumented, the vulnerable, and also our detractors, skeptics, and critics.
It is my hope and prayer that each of the events of this pilgrimage will not only raise our awareness of our common humanity, but also inspire and energize us toward concrete action. We have much work to do to make right over 400 years of injustice and oppression. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” May the steps we take today be another step in the long journey toward justice and equity for all.
Finally, we want to express our thanks for the generous support of BAMA Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band at the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, the Virginia United Methodist Foundation, the New Baptist Covenant, twelve different local faith congregations, and several individual donors. The Baptist Center for Ethics has provided in-kind services. We are deeply grateful for the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and Director Andrea Douglas for providing this space for us to gather at the beginning of our pilgrimage. We are also thankful for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and President Leslie Bowman for welcoming us to Monticello later this afternoon. We also thank all the faith leaders and faith communities that are a part of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective.
Our hearts overflow with gratitude!
And now, I ask Rev. Dr. Alvin Edwards, Pastor of Mt Zion First African Church, Founder and President of the Charlottesville Clergy Collective, to offer our opening prayer.
"The Heresy of Christian Empire and
the Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery"
Thursday, October 11, 6:30 to 9:00 pm
Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, 105 Lankford Ave.
Free and open to the public.
Mark Charles, a Navajo Christian who is a Washington DC correspondent and regular columnist for Native News Online, will give a presentation that traces the history of Christianity and the United States that contributed to the oppression of native peoples and the enslavement of Africans in North America.
Charles will connect the dots beginning with
the teachings of Jesus regarding power and establishing an earthly kingdom,
to the establishment of Christendom,
to Just-War theory and the use of violent force against "infidels,"
to the white supremacist assumptions in the Declaration of Independence,
to the myth of the founding of the United States as a Christian nation,
to Abraham Lincoln and the victory of Manifest Destiny that led to the genocide of native peoples in America,
to the 13th Amendment and mass incarceration,
to the trauma that native peoples, people of color (especially blacks), and white people still carry today.
This will be an enlightening, disturbing, and challenging evening as Charles seek to uncover a common history that links us all together.
6:30 pm Presentation by Mark Charles
8:00 pm Q&A
9:00 pm End of official event.
(Mark Charles is willing to stay an hour longer for those wanting to engage further in conversation.
The Charlottesville to Jamestown pilgrimage is coming soon!
Hear the stories and untold histories of
the enslaved at Monticello
the Monacan Indians in Virginia
Christianity and the Doctrine of Discovery
the arduous walk of the enslaved in Richmond
and the First Africans landing in Jamestown/Ft. Monroe
Visit cville2Jtown.com for more information and to register for events.
The New Baptist Covenant featured our Cville2Jtown Pilgrimage in their August e-newsletter today!
Read the whole article written by Rev. Liz Emrey.
On two sweltering days of August last year, our community in Charlottesville experienced firsthand how the poison of racism can infect, divide and kill us.
The death of Heather Heyer and the injury of dozens more when a white nationalist willfully rammed his automobile into a crowd of anti-racist protesters left us traumatized. And though many of the Neo-Nazis and Alt-Right marchers were strangers to our community, the racial prejudice that fomented those two days of bloody conflict were not a new phenomenon to us.
Our city and county have a long history of racism.
We understand “racism” in America as prejudice sanctioned by institutional power that upholds a white supremacist value system. This racism first decimated the indigenous American Indians and then enslaved people of African and Caribbean descent. As people of faith, we know that we cannot move forward as a healed community without first telling the truth about our past, acknowledging our long history of racism, and turning from it.
We also know that until we have healed these wounds we cannot reconcile or build life-giving relationships that reflect and honor the magnificent diversity of creation. Without reconciliation and repair, we cannot begin to re-envision together what is possible for our country.
It is with this in mind — and with the endorsement of the inter-racial, interfaith, 50-member Charlottesville Clergy Collective — that New Beginnings Christian Community and Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, brought into covenant relationship by New Baptist Covenant, have come together to plan a pilgrimage from Charlottesville to Jamestown and then to Fort Monroe, the site of the arrival in North America of the first ship carrying enslaved Africans 400 years ago.
Open to anyone who wishes to participate, the pilgrimage, set for Oct. 6-13, will offer opportunities for education, reflection, prayer and community building, as we learn a more complete history of our nation’s founding, hear stories of suffering and discrimination, celebrate strength and resiliency, and begin to knit together communities of hope and justice.
Read the whole article here.
About the New Baptist Covenant:
Saddened by the persistent racial and theological divisions between Baptist communities and in the United States, President Jimmy Carter determined to do what he could to heal the divides. In 2007, President Carter brought together prominent leaders from across the Baptist family. These leaders represented more than 30 Baptist organizations and over 20 million people. He challenged them to explore new opportunities for fellowship and cooperation. From this effort, a ministry of action named the New Baptist Covenant was born, uniting Baptists and renewing our pursuit of unity and justice on the local and national scale.
The New Baptist Covenant creates vibrant, inclusive Baptist communities, building bridges in places previously marked by division. We are called by God to champion the weak and oppressed, honor the diverse workings of the Holy Spirit and to share the love of Christ. Our work is rooted in the words of Jesus Christ found in Luke 4:18-19.
Baptist churches from different racial and ethnic backgrounds form Covenants of Action to build relationships with each other and work together to create positive change in the community beyond their churches.
For more information about the New Baptist Covenant and Covenants of Action, visit their website: