Entries by Layton Williams

On Faith, Politics, and Limits for the Church

Despite being a seeming underdog in the Democratic primary facing an incumbent mayor and the aspiring son of the late Mayor Daley, Washington won the primary and subsequently became the mayor. Part of my impetus for being involved was the voice and witness of the Black church on the South Side. Churches and pastors had organized to promote someone they felt would fight for their interests. I saw Harold Washington and his part of the Democratic party as a champion for the underclass, the marginalized, and “the least of these”.

How Jesus Organizes and Agitates to Build Movements

This has always been the work of the Church, to continue and organize the Jesus Movement, bring in new followers and build leaders and power through relationships, and perform in-the-world-but-not-of-it actions to agitate the status quo and move the world toward change for the Kingdom. We just forgot what movements look like because we fell in love with institutional power. 

Rise Above My Enemy Upon the Smoke

Picking up the weapons of one’s enemy can be dangerous and deadly; we must take care when we encounter a religion which is still justifying the genocide of Indigenous Peoples and cultures.  Why would I willingly take part in my own oppression?  Why would I accept or employ methods or weapons that I don’t want used on anyone I love? 

Do Not Forget That You Are In A Holy Place

The following is a re-stating of my testimony to the Southampton Town Board, August 22, 2009.  11 years later almost to the day this same political body has finally agreed to observe a 6 month moratorium on construction, and to enact legal protocols when human remains are unearthed; which hardly resembles NYS Penal Law pertaining to cemetery desecration.  Justice by its nature cannot be divine to one group while denied to another.

Deep Rural

Churches in the deep rural were decades ahead of what churches in larger towns and cities are experiencing now (numerical decline and struggles with building maintenance), and they may be decades ahead of us in how to be church.  The discipleship coach model of congregational empowerment is one that we need to consider as a creative possibility and not a sign of defeat.  

Reconnecting with Self, Nature, and the Planet

The police brutality and systemic racism that Floyd suffered, the wildfires in Northern California, and the low air quality in this country are just some of the harsh impacts of the climate crisis that have affected the planet even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This climate crisis illustrates our disconnection from our Self, from Nature, and from the planet Earth.

Self-Help Individualism Helps. It Cannot Stop the State From Murdering Black People.

We evangelize self-help as salvation. The much quoted/much maligned “pick-yourself-up-by-your-boot-straps” is the end result of a culture that places heavy expectations on what you can do on your own, and specifically as a means to explicitly call against systemic change that may dare to entitle someone to something they may or may not deserve. 

A Gracious and Tenacious Spirit Amidst My Cloud of Witnesses

Whether it’s navigating emails, phone calls, texts, push notifications, news channels, or web sites, involuntary over-excitement sums up the challenge I feel the need to lean into today. But where do I start? I have to make conscious, consistent decisions, otherwise the “cares of the world” in the Parable of the Sower will too easily “choke the word” as I am overwhelmed with the scope of voices vying for my attention. Thinking of the above verses from Hebrews, I am struck with the notion of being “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”. Who are the witnesses I can listen to and learn from?

Mission as Resistance and Struggle

In many ways, border crossings performed  by refugees/migrants today is an act of resistance against nation-states who consider it their absolute right to decide who may or may not enter their borders. Refugees are resisting not having  voice or visibility by breaking the silence and showing up in huge numbers at international borders, even in the midst of the current pandemic.  While this kind of resistance may not be enough to improve their situation or change the system, at the very least they hope to raise awareness that something needs to be done. I believe our God struggles with them as they travel through liminal spaces.