By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,647)
For an hour this afternoon, a gathering of people with different roots joined together on Munjoy Hill to honor lives lost in the recent violence across our country. City leaders mourned the deaths, gave hope to the public that we have more in common than not and challenged everyone to take risks by standing up to the challenges faced in this community at a Commitment to Peace service held at the AME Green Zion Church late this afternoon. The church’s pastor the Rev. Kenneth Lewis officiated at the service.
The wave of shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas have prompted responses across the country and today’s
service was Portland’s official response.
Speaking on behalf of the Police Department, Chief Michael Sauschuck said he had more questions than answers. But he added that he was proud of the way Portland had responded. “I don’t see riots here….Be proud of who you are and where you are,” he encouraged the SRO only crowd inside the Sheridan Street Church as well as over 150 listening outside in seats provided with amplification and a television screen. People began assembling inside the church an hour before the 5:30 pm service on a hot summer day.
“Democracy is ubiquitous, It is everywhere. We may not have felt that way recently. But it is the tie that binds us,” implored Dean Danielle Conway, of the USM School of Law, Portland, in a moving balm for the somber faces in front of her. “There are few divisions between us. It is what we do in failure that counts – no matter where we come from, we belong here,” she said.
Rev. Lewis, a fourteen year veteran of the church, said that a few days ago he was so agitated and angry that he could hardly speak. But then he challenged everyone to take risks, even if it means loosing a friend or two. “Do what makes us uncomfortable enough to make sure we have a more perfect union,” he said.
City Councilor Jill Duson asked: “Where do we go now?”
Former Mayor Michael Brennan attended and listened to the service from outside the Church. (In the fall, he will begin teaching social work at USM and UNE.)
(editor’s note: Figurehead Mayor Ethan Strimling is on vacation and did not attend. What – he’s been on the job far less than a year and gets vacation time? Who is keeping track of his whereabouts beside his girlfriend Stephanie Clifford?)