A Message from the Senior Minister

The civic life of the city is an intimately bound up in of our church’s life. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to a people who were deeply concerned about what would become of their nation. And the counsel he gave was this: Seek the welfare of the city, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Right now, our city needs a lot of prayer. Campus protests are roiling the streets. The encampment at Emerson was broken up in a chaotic and violent overnight scene.

Following the chaotic arrests at Emerson, in which several people were injured, I gathered interfaith clergy to meet with Mayor Wu. As a group, we simply do not view the war in Gaza the same way, but we were united in seeking to ensure that the city does everything in its power to keep everyone safe. Mayor Wu is approaching this in a thoughtful and measured way. I came away from that meeting with faith that the Mayor and her administration will do everything they can to ensure that nothing like the Emerson arrests happens again.

However, it is impossible to speak honestly about these protests without speaking about the war in Gaza. The only thing that will lead to meaningful and enduring peace on our streets is meaningful and enduring peace in Gaza. There is a ceasefire proposal currently being negotiated. It is my own prayer that a negotiated ceasefire will be reached, soon and very soon.

But what is Old South’s role in this? What is the church’s voice?  It is not a single voice. It is more like the sound of many people speaking in small huddles, unsure about being overheard.

Let me tell you about what members of the church are doing. Some among us are being arrested at protests—crying out for the cause of peace from a place of deep faith. Others are losing sleep over their loved ones who are facing off with police. Others are grieving the deaths of those killed on October 7th. Others are grieving the deaths of family members in Gaza.

Many people in the church have wondered why we as a congregation have not publicly taken a position on the war in Gaza. What I’ve done, instead of leading the church to take a public position, is to work to maintain interfaith relationships. I know that people wish that I would lead us to take other positions. I know this because people have told me so. I have valued those conversations deeply, and I also still feel the course we have taken to be the wisest one for us at this time. This is to say—I am always open to having conversations with people about the direction of the church. This is an open invitation. If you want to talk with me about the church’s work as it relates to Gaza—or about anything else—I would be glad to meet. Meeting and talking with members is one of the great joys of ministry. It is part of why I love being your pastor.

I’ll close with the words of Jeremiah again, and ask that you join me in heeding this call from the Prophet. Seek the welfare of the city, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

John Edgerton

Senior Minister

Old South Church in Boston