On Sunday, March 21st, we will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Freedom Church of the Poor. Since March 2020, leaders from the Kairos Center’s Reading the Bible with the Poor Cohort have been convening a weekly online gathering called the Freedom Church of the Poor. This formation brings together leaders from different struggles like the fight for living wages, immigrant rights, healthcare, and housing. We are Christian, Jewish and non-religious; leaders with the Poor People’s Campaign, scholars and clergy; and we come from every region of the country.
By taking the name of Freedom Church of the Poor, we join a much longer history and tradition of church being inseparable from the active struggle for justice in our world. The Freedom Church of the Poor is dedicated to being a spiritual community of movement leaders and to providing them a space for spiritual grounding, reflection, and pastoral care. We come together to challenge the distorted moral narrative of Christian nationalism which blames poor and oppressed people for our poverty and oppression, and to raise up moral and spiritual leadership in the struggle to end the evils of systemic racism, poverty, militarism and the war economy, and ecological devastation.
Learn more about why we gather together every week as the Freedom Church of the Poor by reading the testimonies of some of our church leaders below. And please join us on Sunday, March 21 at 7PM ET / 4PM PT on our Facebook page for the anniversary service of the Freedom Church!
Kenia Alcocer, Union de Vecinos
“Union de Vecinos is a part of the Freedom Church of the Poor because it is a community of faith and because our community understands that we are not waiting for miracles, but that we are organizing for miracles every day when we protest to maintain families in their homes; when we do projects of survival to ensure that everybody has something to eat — a piece of bread on their table. That is how community is built. This church represents all of that, so we are happy and very proud to be part of the Freedom Church of the Poor.”
Keith Bullard, NC Raise Up! / Fight for $15
“I’m Keith Bullard and I’m with NC Raise Up! the Fight for $15. This church means everything to me because it gives a true revelation of who God is and an honest interpretation of what God’s word says and means for the people of God in this day. Its services encompass the testimonies and the heartfelt prayers from God’s people who for so long have been left out and forgotten in America’s prosperity. Freedom Church of the Poor unites God’s beloved community all across this nation and abroad. It is centered on the principles which Jesus the Christ spoke in Luke 4:18-20, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
To be more personal, the Freedom Church of the Poor is a place for people who have for so long felt like they didn’t have a voice; a place for people who may have been looked down upon by those some call ‘spiritual leaders.’ It is a gathering of God’s loving people that is lifting up a mighty spirit of worship, that is fighting back against the rulers of darkness in this world and against spiritual wickedness in high places. This is truly the Freedom Church of the Poor.”
Becca Forsyth, NYS Poor People’s Campaign
“I’m Becca Forsyth, one of the tri-chairs of the New York State Poor People’s Campaign. What has it meant for me to be a member of the Freedom Church of the Poor? It has given my movement heart a spiritual home. It has taught me what it meant that Jesus brought the good news to the potokos, those who were made poor, those who were fighting against the injustice and inequality of the Empire. We are at a monumental moment in history where we have the largest wealth gap to ever exist, but when I come to Freedom Church I hear the stories of the disciples building that first beloved community in the Book of Acts.
And I see how that relates to the beloved community that my brothers and sisters in the struggle are building every day. People like Keith Bullard with the Fight for $15. When I see him and Clinton Wright teaming up and feeding thousands of people, it just makes my heart soar. I hear the prophetic words of Isaiah who said, ‘woe to those who make unjust laws,’ and I see people like Aaron Scott from Chaplains on the Harbor standing against those unjust laws and standing for the poor of their community. I remember the story about David as he stood against all odds and the giant Goliath and then I think of Tammy Rojas of Put People First! PA fighting the injustice of the healthcare industrial complex. I hear the story of the loaves and fishes feeding the hungry by faith and I hear some of the same stories of miracles from the National Union of the Homeless as told by Dr. Savina Martin. Through them I hear organizing lessons from the very first book of organizing and activism.
It is by taking the time to hear each of these stories, listening to the prophets of our times that we will change the narrative of today’s Caesars and remind the ruling class that we each carry God’s mark. This reclaiming, redemptive action walks with a transformative power during our revolution of love. Each of these prophetic voices are standing up to Empire every day and I’m just so grateful to have a ringside seat to watch the continuation of God’s love as it flows through our movement. May we all stand arm and arm to radically love the various expressions of God within ourselves and others. This will lead us to love, justice, and mercy!”