Updated: Mar 25
By Karl Hilgert
Like most people I have spent a good bit of time during the COVID pandemic mumbling, grumbling and even shouting some unkind words at people on the TV. Much of my frustration has comes from an inability to do what I feel called to do. Stories about police brutality found their way into the public eye, and I could not safely take to the streets to protest, work for criminal justice reform, or advocate for racial and economic justice in the ways I felt called. My sense of failure was real.
In June, our Southern California Nevada Conference passed a resolution about Black Lives Matter at our Annual Gathering. One of the projects that grew out of that resolution was a weekly conversation about racism. I joined this diverse group of people
via Zoom and discovered a most outstanding sounding board for my own experiences. It has been my most meaningful, on-going COVID experience. It has provided context and support for my personal response in my home community of Pilgrim Place.
I seek guidance in my life through prayer and using my mantra-song first thing in the morning and last thing at night: “Spirit of the Living God, arise afresh in me, Spirit
of the Living God, arise afresh in us. Melt us, mold us, heal us, use us. Spirit of the Living God arise afresh in me.” With the sense of loss of direction during COVID, this manta has gotten a lot of use. After a few focused days of prayers for direction, I began to sense a path that might lead me to do what I could do under the circumstances.
I made a sign to hold at Pilgrim Place’s weekly Peace Vigil. It Read:
We are ONE
In the SPIRIT
That same day, neighbor arrived at the vigil with a large BLM flag. This convergence of the Spirit inspired us to work together to do more. We received enthusiastic support from Pilgrim Place for residents to raise money towards a half page ad titled “Testament of Support for Black Lives Matter.” This ran in the Claremont Courier, and we were also able to make a $525 donation to Black Lives Matter.
I give thanks to my sisters and brothers who have shared their stories and supported my own journey through the weekly Conversations on Race. They have been a blessing to me.
Black Lives Matter video from Pilgrim Place
Karl Hilgert is a retired United Church of Christ pastor and community organizer. He and his wife are residents of the Pilgrim Place community in Claremont, CA and Karl continues to be an active voice for systemic change in the community. Within the Church and in the public decision making organizations that impact people's daily lives, Karl is known as a loud voice for criminal justice reform and and economic justice.