Invitation to Beale on Good Friday

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly

I don’t usually post announcements and logistical information on my blog, but our coming Good Friday service at Beale needs a prominent place where people can find it easily.  So here it is!

You are invited to join a group of peacemakers on Good Friday, April 18 at 3 p.m., as we gather at the Main Gate of Beale Air Force Base, in the shadow of killer drones, modern day equivalents of the cross.  Internationally recognized peace activist Kathy Kelly, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, will join us there.  Kathy has a new post up on CounterPunch today, titled “We Don’t Want You to Swim in the River.

There have been frequent anti-drone demonstrations at Beale, home of the Global Hawk Drone, a  surveillance drone that assists in finding targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.    We will gather to pray, to act, and to build a community of peace.   All people, regardless of spiritual or philosophical perspective, are welcome to join us.

1)  Prayer Service:  The prayer service will include songs, prayer, Holy Communion, and reflections by Kathy Kelly.  It can get hot in the sun, so bring folding chairs, hats, and/or sunscreen.   The following clergy will lead the service:

The Reverend Dr. Gerald O. (Jerry) Pedersen, former U.S. Marine,present as part of the Honor Guard on the U.S.S. Missouri during the surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II, retired Lutheran pastor, Sacramento, author of Unfinished Journey:  From War to Peace, From Violence to Wholeness, member Veterans for Peace.

The Reverend Elizabeth Griswold, pastor of Parkside Community Church, UCC, in Sacramento.

The Reverend John Auer, retired United Methodist Pastor, Wesley UMC, Fresno, California.

The Reverend Sharon Delgado, retired United Methodist Pastor, founding director of Earth Justice Ministries, author of Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization, in Nevada City, California.

In addition to praying for the victims of US drones, we will acknowledge our complicity and pray for those who have suffered and who suffer now from the harm caused by the system of domination of which we are a  part:  for the harm done to the Indigenous people who used to live where Beale is now, the harm being done to Mother Earth by our building and deploying high-tech weapons and weapons of mass destruction, the harm done to families and communities who suffer cutbacks in public services while billions are spent for the military, the overall harm caused by the global reach of US military power.  We will also pray for drone operators and all in the military, all service personnel, veterans, policy-makers, and all who are caught up in harmful systems, including those of us who are beneficiaries of the status quo.

2)  Nonviolent Action:  Following the service, some may cross the demarcation line onto Beale property in an attempt to deliver a letter and statement,   “A Call from the Faith Based Community to Stop Drone Killings,” to the base commander.  Some may then kneel in prayer.  Those who cross the line will (no doubt) be detained.

The Reverends Pedersen, Griswold, and Delgado were detained on March 5, Ash Wednesday, for crossing the demarcation line.  Also detained were Flora Rodgers of Linda and Michael Kerr, a member of Veterans for Peace from Bay View/Pittsburg.  The demonstrators carried crosses and sprinkled ashes representing children killed by U.S. drones.   See a video of the arrests here.

As for the consequences of taking such action:  The charges against several protesters have been dropped, and the cases that have gone to trial have (so far) all resulted in sentences of just 10 hours of community service.  In the past two nonviolent direct actions at Beale, arrestees have been fingerprinted, photographed, and returned within the hour.  Citations have not been issued.  Of course, past consequences are no guarantee.

If you are considering being a part of this action, bring a valid ID and a support person who has your personal information.  Legal observers will be present, and a team of pro-bono lawyers is standing by.

3:  Community Building:  Gather at The Brick Coffee House in Marysville between 1:30 and 2 if you want to meet others and join a car caravan out to the Main Gate.  The caravan will leave at 2:30 sharp.  Following the Beale actions we will set up tables in front of the Main Gate for a potluck.  Bring folding chairs or a blanket and some simple food to share.  Bring a song if you like!  Mosquito repellent comes in handy, as do flashlights if you stay late.

For a theological rationale of this Good Friday Action, see Sharon Delgado’s blog posting “Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday.”

To keep up with details, contact us at occupybeale@earth-justice.org.

Kathy Kelly will also be preaching at the Good Friday Action at Lawrence Livermore Lab on the morning of April 18.  Some of us will be driving up to Beale with Kathy following this action. We could easily arrange a car caravan if others want to join us.

She will also be speaking in Grass Valley the following day, April 19, at 1 p.m. at Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters, Tomes, at 671 Maltmann Drive in Grass Valley.  Find out more a the FaceBook event Kathy Kelly to Speak in Grass Valley or at Earth Justice Ministries April Projects and Campaigns.

Here is a video of the Ash Wednesday service and action.  To find out more about the Ash Wednesday worship and arrests at Beale, previous nonviolent direct actions at Beale, and the outcome of trials, check out Sharon Delgado’s blog postings about drones.

Special feature about drone demonstrations at Beale dominated the front and back pages of the Sacramento Bee’s Sunday paper on March 31st.

Here is a video uploaded from my presentation at Parkside Community Church (UCC), titled “The Role of Nonviolent Direct Action in Christian Peacemaking.” I hope it inspires you.

To keep current with demonstrations at Beale, check out the Occupy Beale AFB website and the OccupyBealeAir Force Base FaceBook Page.

Carpools, car caravans:  There will be a car caravan from the K-Mart Shopping Center in Grass Valley, meeting at 2 p.m., leaving at 2:15 sharp.  Contact Paula or Jerome Orloff (paulaorloff@yahoo.com) or 272-7019 to reserve a space.    The car caravan from The Brick in Marysville will leave for Beale at 2:30 sharp.   Flora will meet people there.    The carpool, caravan from Livermore will leave by 12:30 p.m.

Concerns about Bathrooms:  Yuba College is about a mile down North Beale Road in the other direction. There are bathrooms at the side entrance of the administration and there is a cafeteria also.

Directions to The Brick Coffeehouse from State Highway 70 W: Take the 3rd Street Exit (right), turn left onto D Street, to 316 D.

Getting Lost:  If you get lost on the way to Beale, call Shirley by cell phone at 941-320-0291.

Directions to the Main (Schneider) Gate: 4875 N. Beale Road.

From Sacramento Take I-80 to I-5 north of Sacramento, almost immediately after leaving I-80, take exit 525B to transfer to Hwy 99, continue 12.5. mi. and stay right to transfer onto Hwy 70, continue about 20 miles, exit at Feather River Blvd., just after the Erle Rd. exit. Do not take the 1st Feather River Blvd. which is about 10 miles earlier! (note sign to Beale AFB), turn right at ramp, You’ll be facing Burger King, across the street, a good bathroom stop. If you don’t cross the intersection, turn immediately right at the light (Lindhurst Ave.) and left at 2nd light to get on N. Beale Rd. Continue on N. Beale Rd. for over 6 miles. It dead ends at the Gate Entrance. Parking on left side of Rd. near the gate.

From Grass Valley: Take the Highway 20 Exit toward Marysville. Go approximately 15 miles until you see the sign “to Beale Air Force Base,” then turn left onto Hammonton-Smartville Road (the name of the road is abbreviated on the sign). After about eight miles you will pass the Doolittle gate, then in three miles or so you will get to Brophy. Turn left onto Brophy, and take it a mile or two all the way to to the end, where it stops at North Beale Road. North Beale is not marked, and there is a misleading sign on the frontage road that says “Jewett Road.” But turn left at the “T” (it is North Beale) and go 2 to 3 miles to the Schneider Gate. Park on the left side of the road.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.

Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday

 

On April

Ash Wednesday 2014 Service at Beale

Ash Wednesday Service at Beale

On April 18, Good Friday, I will gather with others at the main gate of Beale Air Force Base at 3 p.m. for a prayer service and demonstration against drone warfare.  Kathy Kelly, an internationally recognized peace activist, will join us there.

Why Beale?  Because Beale is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that assists in finding targets for unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones.”  U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians, including children.

Why on Good Friday?  Because on the day set aside to commemorate Jesus’ death some of us choose to stand in solidarity with those who are being “crucified” today,  to demonstrate opposition to the worldly Powers that inflict suffering and death, and to witness to our hope that divine Love will carry us through this present darkness to a new dawn of justice, compassion, and peace.

Good Friday is not just a day to remember and mourn the death of Jesus, which happened so long ago, but to lament the many ways that the crucifixion is ongoing.  In the words of Dorothee Solle, “In the mist of reality stands the cross.”

I encourage you to join us at Beale or at some other venue that represents today’s system of domination, to “take sides” with the victims of violence and oppression, to challenge the ruling Powers as Jesus did, and to bear witness to the hope of resurrection.  Another world is possible.

 

Find out more about plans for Good Friday at Beale here.

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.

 

 

Fly Kites not Drones

 

March 24, 2014 at Beale

March 24, 2014 at Beale

“Fly Kites not Drones” was the theme of our last demonstration at Beale, home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that helps identify targets for armed drones.   This phrase perfectly expresses the hope that “another world is possible.”

Fly kites not drones.

Plant gardens not land mines.

Scatter seeds not shrapnel.

Build schools, not bunkers.

Subsidize solar power, not oil.

Support human rights, not corporate rights.

Bail out people, not banks.

Tend Mother Earth, don’t exploit her

Everyone who is working for change along these lines must have some degree of faith that such transformation is possible.  At times such changes in the general mindset and in social policies seems impossible.  The institutional Powers that rule the world are so entrenched, and bad news compounds every day.

We can’t know for sure.  As theologian Jurgen Moltmann wrote:

Has the modern world any future? Its future is conversion. Will humanity survive the crises we have described? We cannot know, and we must not know. If we knew that humanity is not going to survive, we should not do anything more for our children but would say, “after us, the deluge.” If we knew that humanity is going to survive, we should not do anything either, and by doing nothing we should miss our chance for conversion. Because we cannot know whether humanity is going to survive or not, we have to act today as if the future of the whole of humankind were dependent on us—and yet at the same time trust wholly that God is faithful to his creation and will not let it go.[i]

This is why I have devoted my life to speaking, writing, and acting to help usher in a world that is peaceful, just, and ecologically sustainable.  We don’t know what the outcome will be, but it’s not time to give up just now.  We are at a period of great transition.

I believe that whoever acts on behalf of this vision of a radically transformed world, what Jesus called “the kingdom of God,”  is doing the will of the One who brought the universe and this precious earth into being.  May we reaffirm our commitment and do what we can to be the transformation that we want to see.

 

[i]. Jürgen Moltmann, “Has Modern Society Any Future?” in Jürgen Moltmann and Johannes Baptist Metz, Faith and the Future: Essays on Theology, Solidarity, and Modernity (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1995), 174.

The Things that Make for Peace

Preaching at Ash Wednesday Worship Service at Beale

Preaching at Ash Wednesday Worship Service at Beale

I delivered this message at the Ash Wednesday worship service at Beale Air Force Base.

As Jesus came near and saw the city, he wept over it,  saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side.  They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.” Matthew 19:41-44

When Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem, he stopped along the way.  He wept over the city and the disaster that was coming if things didn’t change, if people didn’t turn around.  Jesus wept.

I can identify with him, and you may, too, since you’ve come out all the way to the gates of Beale on this rainy day so early in the morning.  There is a lot to weep over as we look at our world today.  I believe that God weeps over the harm we human beings cause each other, and calls us to another way:  away from personal, social, and institutionalized sin and to the way of justice, peace, and caring for the earth.

Jesus told his friends that peacemakers are blessed.  But just what are the “things that make for peace?”  First, we need reconciliation.  As we stand here today, when environmental destruction, violence, and war threaten to consume the earth, we remember that we stand in the presence of the Great Mystery, the Creator and Source of the universe, who is experienced in an infinite number of ways and is called by many different names by the peoples of the earth.

God is here.  Do we recognize the time of our visitation from God?

I am so glad that people of different faith traditions are joining us here today.  We acknowledge the need to make amends, to foster understanding, and to live in unity in order for cycles of violence to end.  We pray for reconciliation with people of varied philosophies and spiritual understandings.  We pray for reconciliation with God, with all peoples, and with the whole community of life.

Second, we need repentance.  Today we focus on our participation and complicity in systems that cause harm.  Those of us here who are Christian acknowledge and lament the harm done by Christian imperialism.  We repent for Christian complicity in systems of domination, violence, war, genocide, and ecocide.  We call all Christians to repent of harm caused,  turn away from today’s systems of violence, and turn toward the nonviolent Jesus of Scripture.  He walked softly on the earth, created a community of compassion and inclusion, preached good news to the poor, spoke truth to power, and lived and died for Love.  Those who follow him are called to do the same.

We recognize where we stand at this pivotal time in human history.  We stand in the heart of a nation that has more political, economic, and military power than has ever before existed on earth.  This nation was built on the blood of Indigenous peoples and on the labor of slaves, immigrants, and the poor.  Our government promotes and supports a global system of unrestrained free market capitalism, dominated by corporations.

The United States is the primary enforcer of this global system, which is ravaging the earth and the human community.  Our government is engaged in endless war, including drone strikes, unrestrained by international law.  This cycle of destruction and death, paid for by our tax dollars, should stop, and the resources should be released for meeting human need.

This is institutionalized sin.  We repent for the violence in our own hearts and lives and our complicity in our government’s actions.  We call on the President and other government leaders  to repent of the harm being caused and to radically change course, to turn away from war and to work for peace, justice, and the healing of the earth.  We call on drone pilots, military personnel, and civilians to listen to the call of conscience, turn away from supporting war and begin the hard work of building a culture of peace.

Third, we need resistance–nonviolent resistance–following the example of Jesus.  Theologian William Stringfellow said, “The integrity of resistance to the power of death is the only way to live humanly.” In times of great social evil, the only way to maintain our humanity, and our inner peace, is to live in resistance to the domination systems that bring death.  Roger Gottlieb, in his book, The Spirituality of Resistance, made the point that living in resistance is the only way we can truly accept the reality of the dangers that threaten our world.  How can I accept that my grandchildren are facing a disastrous future unless I am doing all in my power to prevent that from happening?  Besides, as they say, “In resistance is the secret of joy.”  And I mean today.  Today  there is no place I’d rather be.

Standing here at the gates of Beale, we express our resistance to the inhumanity of drone warfare, on behalf of the families and children of Afghanistan and Pakistan, of Yemen and Somalia, and of every nation on earth.  We express our resistance to drone warfare on behalf of our own children and grandchildren, and those who will come after.  We commit ourselves to working tirelessly to stop the endless cycle of violence so that future generations can live in peace.

It’s good to weep.  It means we’re not in denial.  We, like Jesus, know that if we don’t turn things around, the earth community and our children’s children face disaster.

But God is in our midst, calling us to reconciliation, repentance, and resistance to the dominant systems of our day.  The Spirit is inspiring us, empowering us, and working through us to help create a world of peace, justice, and fruitfulness that can sustain life through all generations.

One of the baptismal vows in the United Methodist Church is this:  “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”  As we stand here at the gate of Beale Air Force Base and the Global Hawk Drones, we say “yes.”

Ash Wednesday Worship and Arrests at Beale

Beale Arrestees on Ash Wednesday

Beale Arrestees on Ash Wednesday

Today, on Ash Wednesday, I participated in a deeply meaningful worship service and nonviolent direct action against drones at the gate of Beale Air Force Base.  In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “My body is tired but my soul is rested.”  Actions of faith and conscience are good for the soul.  You can see KCRA’s coverage of the service here, and a video of the arrests here.

The worship service was exquisite.  Although today is a Christian holy day and we used traditional Christian symbols in worship, the service was unique in that it was open to and inclusive of people of all faiths and philosophies.  It included a prayer in the four directions based on Indigenous spirituality, the World Peace Prayer (from the Hindu religion), and a Hebrew song introduced by Rabbi Seth Castleman.

The service included both personal and national repentance, particularly related to U.S. militarism and drone warfare.  We celebrated Holy Communion and used ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality.  The “passing of the peace” included some people carrying the message of peace to the TV crew and Beale officers.  Several participants told me that it was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday service they had ever attended.

Following the service, five of us walked across the boundary line onto base property.  We sprinkled ashes that represented the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones.  Some of us carried crosses with artistic renditions of some of these children, with their names, ages, and countries of origin.   The other people who were arrested were:  Michael Kerr, a member of Veterans for Peace from Bay Point/Pittsburg; Flora Rodgers, a young peace activist from Linda;  The Rev. Elizabeth Griswold, pastor of Parkside Community Church (United Church of Christ) in Sacramento; and The Rev. Dr. Jerry Pedersen, a retired Lutheran pastor from Sacramento, a member of Veterans for Peace and former U.S. Marine.

We were quickly detained by Beale officers, taken to the guard station, where we were fingerprinted and photographed but not cited, then released.  When entering the guard station I greeted the officers with the words, “Peace be with you.”  We all treated each other respectfully and with good humor, with the understanding that they were doing their job and we were doing ours.  The young guards were impressed with Jerry’s military card Jerry, which shows that he was present as part of the Honor Guard on the U.S.S. Missouri during the surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II.

As we were arrested, supporters were singing “I’ll be rested when the roll is called,” with the names of people who have worked for peace and justice through the ages.  May it be so for all of us.  May we find rest for our souls in the midst of the violence of our times.