A Message from Pastor Kaji

June 6th,2024 Categories: Weekly Letter

Dear Church:

In keeping with our commitment to justice, we have a very special treat planned: we have one of the main and continuing leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) coming to speak with us. If you don’t know, SNCC was instrumental in organizing young folk to act in the struggle for racial justice of the 1960s, and also a force in holding other justice movements accountable to the needs of a generation that wouldn’t have otherwise been at the table. Karen Spellman is a leading boardmember of the SNCC Legacy Project and helped to lead their Black Power Chronicles work. She has so many backstories about anything from her organizing teenagers to sit in at the counters in Greensboro to her work with Dr. King, how John Lewis’ March on Washington speech was written (& revised), what it was like to dodge bullets from the Klan and so much more. 

Karen Spellman is the newest member of our church. And I should also disclose that she is: my mom. Born and raised a preacher’s kid (and granddaughter and great-granddaughter) she has much wisdom for all of us. While I am preparing my child for their dance recital (scheduled on a Sunday), mom will be present to you. Come with your curiosity and questions! Her time will conclude by 1 pm so that she can make it to the recital, so make sure to be at church on time. I couldn’t be prouder of who my mom is, and I know you will love soaking in the depth of her knowledge. 

In worship this week, we take on a story in Jesus’ life that helps to reveal his priorities. The story of the man in Gerasenes teaches us that breaking physical chains is only the beginning—true liberation comes from overcoming inner demons.

Here in NYC, safety is a hot topic. We revamped bail, but is more incarceration really the answer? The Bible challenges us to rethink justice. We have a chance to reflect on this, now. 

So much is happening in the world right now. As a church, it is our work to draw on the legacy of the biblical stories and the elders to prepare ourselves for our part. Join us as we grow, together.

Pax Christi,

Pastor Kaji


Mark 5:1-20 (Year B, p. 216):

1 [Now Jesus and the women and men with him] came to the far side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he got out of the boat, just then a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs and not even with a chain could anyone bind him. 4 For he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains he tore off of him and the shackles he smashed, and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 So the whole of the night and every day he was among the tombs and on the mountains howling and cutting himself with stones. 6 Then he saw Jesus from a distance; he ran and bent down before him (on the ground). 7 And he shouted with a loud voice, saying, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I charge you to swear by God, not to torture me.” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “You unclean spirit, come out of the man!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name; for we are many.” 10 He begged Jesus repeatedly that he not send them out of the region. 11 Now there on the hillside a large herd of pigs was feeding. 12 And they [the unclean spirits] begged Jesus, saying, “Send us into the pigs that we may enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission, thus the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs and the herd—about two thousand—rushed down the steep decline into the sea and were drowned in the sea.

14 Now the pigherders fled and told the news in the city and in the farm country and people came to see what it was that happened. 15 Women, children, and men came to Jesus and saw the man in whom the demons had been sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. 16 And they explained it, they who had seen what had happened to the man with the demons and to the pigs. 17 And then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 Then as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged Jesus that he might be with him. 19 And Jesus did not permit him, rather saying to him, “Go to your home, to your [people] and tell them the news of what the Holy One has done for you, and what mercy God has shown you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis (the ten cities) how much Jesus had done for him and everyone was amazed.