Area clergy offer thoughts on Chauvin verdict

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  • The Rev. Don Morgan of Haydenville Congregational Church was one of a number of Northampton interfaith leaders who gathered at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence on Thursday to reflect on the murder of George Floyd, the conviction of Derek Chauvin and the challenges ahead. Behind Morgan is an illustration of Sojourner Truth credited to H. Diamond. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Rev. Michael McSherry of Edwards Church was joined by other Northampton interfaith leaders at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence on Thursday, April 22, 2021, to reflect on the murder of George Floyd, the conviction of Derek Chauvin and the challenges ahead. Behind McSherry is an illustration of Sojourner Truth credited to H. Diamond. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Rev. Todd Weir of First Churches of Northampton reads a poem at the close of a meeting of Northampton interfaith leaders Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Rev. Janet Bush of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence was one of several Northampton interfaith leaders who gathered in her sanctuary on Thursday, April 22, 2021, to reflect on the murder of George Floyd, the conviction of Derek Chauvin and the challenges ahead. Behind Bush is an illustration of Sojourner Truth credited to H. Diamond. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Debra Moore, Minister of Faith Formation at Edwards Church, was among several Northampton interfaith leaders who gathered at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence on Thursday, April 22, 2021, to reflect on the murder of George Floyd, the conviction of Derek Chauvin and the challenges ahead. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

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    The Rev. Todd Weir, right, of First Churches of Northampton, offers a blessing after reading a poem by Jena Schwartz of Amherst, "The Future Loves You Already", at the conclusion of a meeting of Northampton interfaith leaders at the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence on Thursday, April 22, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 4/22/2021 8:51:51 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Rev. Donald Morgan, pastor of Haydenville Congregational Church, said he watched bits and pieces of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd last May.

“Of course I tuned in to the verdict,” Morgan said, standing at the front of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence church on Thursday afternoon. “Since that time I have celebrated, and I have rejoiced,” he said. “But I was only able to celebrate after telling myself and assuring myself that although we celebrate — and there’s nothing wrong with celebration — that we have to remember that that victory, that that justice, that that accountability does not erase or eradicate all the injustices and unaccountabilities that have taken place in this nation over the years.”

Standing in front of a large black and white drawing of Sojourner Truth in the church, Morgan was among five Valley religious leaders who held a small gathering where they reflected on Tuesday’s verdict in the Chauvin case.

“It is but a drop in the bucket of what we need to see,” Morgan said of the verdict. “It also does not guarantee justice and accountability in the future.”

Though some breathed a sigh of relief at the news, he said, “I would encourage us and warn us not to exhale and hold our breath and to allow this movement to die. We must continue to fight. We must continue to struggle.”

A conviction is the “minimum appropriate response,” said the Rev. Michael McSherry, a minister at Edwards Church of Northampton.

“He is one perpetrator of one horrible event. One event in a long history of suffering.” Regardless of religion, all Americans, he said, “have a role in the work ahead — the work of draining racism from all our systems.”

Unitarian Universalism has it roots in the Puritan church, a group that came to North America with racist beliefs, noted the Rev. Janet Bush, minister of the Unitarian Society of Northampton. She emphasized the need to confront racism.

Todd Weir, First Churches of Northampton co-pastor, read a poem written by Amherst writer Jena Schwartz, “The Future Loves You Already,” and he offered a blessing.

Morgan noted that he watched the funeral of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man killed by police at a traffic stop in Minnesota. Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at the funeral about the chant, “no justice, no peace,” he recalled. “We cannot have peace in this nation,” Morgan said, “until we have justice.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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