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‘Night of Lament for Racial Reconciliation’ rescheduled for Nov. 5

FUGE sings on the library steps
The Furman University Gospel Ensemble (FUGE) performs in front of the James B. Duke Library during the Joseph Vaughn Day commemoration ceremony on Jan. 29.

A “Night of Lament for Racial Reconciliation,” organized and hosted by the Furman University chapter of the International Justice Mission and the Furman University Gospel Ensemble (FUGE), originally scheduled for Oct. 29 but postponed because of Hurricane Zeta, has been rescheduled for this Thursday, Nov. 6. The virtual event is a CLP, open to the public, and will begin at 8:30 p.m.

“In the New Testament, there’s a very common verse that everybody knows, and it’s ‘Jesus wept.’ The shortest verse in the Bible, and it’s so powerful to see that Jesus is God, but he too wept when he went through things that people on Earth are going through,” FUGE president Abby Magoola ’21, a biology major, said. “Lamenting from a Christian standpoint is to connect with our feelings in order to connect with Jesus, who went through those same feelings himself.”

Traditionally, there are four stages of lament: Turn to God, complain, ask and trust. Dorothy and B.H. Pearce Jr. Associate Professor of Religion Bryan Bibb will begin the program by introducing the history of lament in the Jewish and Christian traditions and its role in worship and tragedy.

Students will then lead a service lamenting the history of racism and oppression in the United States, with each of the four sections followed by gospel songs from FUGE and the offering of prayer. Susanna Larry ’12, an assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Theological Seminary, will offer a benediction and cultural context.

Special emphasis will be given to regional and local history, including the memory of Clark Murphy, the much-loved African American janitor, groundskeeper and handyman at Greenville Woman’s College for whom the Clark Murphy Housing Complex was recently named.

The death of George Floyd, who was killed when Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd lay face down and handcuffed on a street, sparked nationwide protests of police brutality and for racial justice that have persisted for months in responses to a lengthy list of Black people who have died at the hands of law enforcement in recent years.

“2020 has been an opportunity to evolve our society,” Magoola, native of Uganda who grew up in the United States, said. “It is hard to go through as a Black person … This is a great opportunity for all of us to reflect on what’s happening, and I’ll definitely be doing some reflecting as I lead this ceremony because it’s a great way to decompress.”

Meghan Bullard ’21 leads the campus International Justice Mission (IJM) chapter, and the Night of Lament was an idea she brought back to Furman after participating in a lament during her summer internship with IJM. The International Justice Mission works to combat sex trafficking, forced labor, slavery and abuse of police power. All of its employees are required to be practicing Christians.

“We wanted to have a place where Furman students can come and emotionally process everything that has happened this summer and, honestly, the injustice that has existed in our country for 400 years,” Bullard, a biology and German studies major from Buford, Georgia, said. “That way we can come to a place where we’re ready to go out and fight injustice, and we’re not doing that from a place of emptiness but rather we feel emotionally equipped.”

Register for the Night of Lament by clicking this link.

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