Posts by Meagan Wood

  • 4000 March for Peace and Justice in Berkeley

    August 31, 2017 ~ Meagan Wood

    On Sunday, August 27, 2017 the Alt-right scheduled a rally for Civic Park in Berkeley, CA.  Although the city of Berkeley did not provide a permit for this rally, the Alt-right came anyway.  Their numbers were few and they were met Sunday morning (ca. 10am) by a larger group of Antifas dressed in black with masks; a presentation commonly known as black block.  It has been reported that some violence and arrests took place during this morning encounter.  Total arrests reported were 13; total injured reported was 6.

    At 12:30 pm a group of about 1000 clergy and people of faith gathered at First Congregational Church in Berkeley in preparation for a peaceful march to Civic Park as an anti-protest effort.  The group, led by Rev. Michael McBride and Rev. Ben McBride of PICO International, left First Congo around 1:15 and began the march toward Civic Park.  People were dressed in blue jeans, khaki pants, t-shirts, colorful garb, and many clergy wore robes and/or stoles.  There were no weapons, there were no masks, there were no helmets.  We were armed with protest and gospel songs and the spirit of justice as an expression of public love.  Berkeley March 1-1

    As we made our way down Hearst Avenue to MLK we sang songs; careful at every moment to remain in the street so as not to destroy any property.  Many came out of their homes and hung out their windows to cheer us on.  Many joined us as we passed by.  At Shattuck Avenue we paused for a few minutes, obstructing the intersection, and sang a song.  Along Hearst we met up with at least one additional group at one of the intersections.  By the time we reached Civic Park the group had swelled to 4000.

    I stayed with the group the entire time and saw zero violence or destruction of property.  We arrived at Civic Park around 2 pm.  By then the altercations from the morning were long over.  We were a peaceful group of 4000 people making a statement—clearly stating that racism and injustice of every kind does not belong in Berkeley, CA.

    Since Sunday, the Berkeley police chief and the media have conflated the events of the day.  They have juxtaposed the morning altercations between the Alt-right and the Antifa to the peaceful march of the 4000.  This is a dishonest presentation of the facts.  Simultaneously, hurricane Harvey was pounding the south of Texas, hitting Houston particularly hard.  Many have commented on social media that those marching in Berkeley should have been putting their dollars and resources toward Houston.  This is an obvious ploy to take the issue of race off the table.

    Indeed, Hurricane Harvey is a devastating situation that must be attended too.  I am sending my dollars ASAP  through two different respected and trustworthy agencies.  Simultaneously, Nazis and the KKK are horrific groups that have wrecked devastation and horror in the lives of millions of people.  Sunday, August 27, 2017, was not a day to decide that one devastation was more important than the other, it was not a day for an either-or decision but a day for a both-and decision.  There are at least 4000 people in Berkeley that are not willing to allow the nay-sayers to deter us from standing up to racist hate speech.

    Simultaneously, the media wishes to portray the 4000 Berkeley peace marchers as violent terrorists.  This is a distortion of the facts and it is an irresponsible communication of the events that took place.  Such media coverage is yet one more attempt to take the issue of racism off the table.  To suggest that the 4000 engaged in violence and mayhem is to discredit their efforts and their message.  I attended the march for this very purpose, so that I would know first hand what took place and would not have to rely on the reports of others.  From the time the inter-faith group left First Congregational Church to the time the group disbanded to return home there was no violence or destruction of property.  Only strong statements of anti-racism and justice for all.

    May our brothers and sisters in south Texas be tended to; all of them!  Black, brown, yellow, and white; rich, poor, and Middle class; transgendered, gay, female, and male.  And may there be peace and justice in our nation.

    LSF Signature




    LeAnn Snow Flesher, PhD
    VP of Academics and Professor of Old Testament
    American Baptist Seminary of the West at
    The Graduate Theological Union

  • Greetings from President Brenneman

    August 28, 2017 ~ Meagan Wood

    Dear ABSW Community:

    Greetings to you all — faculty, staff, trustees, alums, friends, and, above all, students. It seems fitting that I begin my first official day of work as president of ABSW on the fifty fourth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

    I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity to join you, along with so many who have gone before, in helping to fulfill Martin’s dream of creating a truly “world house” of the Spirit, right here at ABSW. Today, as much as ever, the world needs leaders of the Spirit prepared to advance the moral and spiritual imagination of the universe and to help make come to pass, on earth as in heaven, the just and peaceful world lived and taught by Jesus Christ, our Lord.

    I especially want to thank Dr. Nick Carter, who served so superbly as interim president. I also acknowledge with grateful spirit, that other “Martin” now among the immortals surrounding us, Dr. Paul M. Martin, who served ABSW as president so faithfully for nine years right up to his unexpected death eighteen months ago. To the entire ABSW team, thank you for your generous servant leadership through tumultuous times, service which I will continue to cherish and rely on going forward.

    I am eager to begin this journey with you. Please keep me and all of us at ABSW in your prayers. Your questions, counsel, and financial support are always welcome!

    In Christ’s just peace,

    President James E. Brenneman

  • In Response to Charlottesville Terrorism: A Statement from ABSW Administration & Faculty

    August 17, 2017 ~ Meagan Wood


    CharlottesvilleThe events that took place in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday, August 12, 2017 give evidence of the deep seated hatred, bigotry, and racism that resides in the United States of America.  In recent months, we have experienced escalating tensions that have now reached the level of national terrorism. In line with our commitments to diversity, the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) has established a safe space and innovative curriculum that embraces theological dialogue directly related to the most critical issues of our day.  Consequently, we speak out today against hatred, bigotry, racism, violence, neo-Nazism, the KKK, and White Supremacist groups.  There is no place in our theology or ideology for the evils that have been perpetrated historically and in recent days against anti-racist groups.  There can be no more moral ambiguity rather inclusive presence and justice are moral imperatives for freedom in this nation.

    As a theological educational institution located in Berkeley, CA, ABSW is committed to free speech, justice, equity, and peace for all people.  Accordingly, we raise the question “when is free speech hate speech, and when does hate speech lead to violence?”  We call our faculty, staff, students, and constituencies as colleagues in ministry, to unite in vigilant prophetic resistance against all forms of hatred as well as join a vigilant prophetic movement toward a peace making that reflects our commitments to the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    ABSW has been and will continue be “A laboratory for building communities of Christian hope, justice and reconciliation.”


    The Administration and Faculty of
    The American Baptist Seminary of the West
    1 of 10 multi-cultural/inter-cultural
    ATS accredited theological schools in North America

  • Rwanda Blog 6: Peter Ngong, D.Min. Student

    August 17, 2017 ~ Meagan Wood


    It is another day and the sun is rising sheepishly as if to say that its rays are afraid of trespassing through this quiet area of eternity. Here thousands of Rwandan kids, women and men lie quietly in their graves. For many of them here, they met their deaths suddenly and unprepared. I just listened to a testimony where a survivor said that at the point of death, many people received their last baptism using blood as it flowed from the bodies of those who had been slaughtered or butchered to die.Rwanda Blog 6-1

    Ohh!!! For many it was just a glimmer of time to say, “God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit” while smearing the fore head with blood”, then waited for their turn to die.

    I have chosen to call this place where these bodies are resting, a city. True indeed, this is their city until Christ comes. And for this, I remember the day we arrived here as a team of students from the American Baptist Seminary of the West. We moved in quietly and with little ceremony. When I returned here for a special day of reflection and a memoriam, I was challenged by the fact that this is another world, where as in the United States of America, you cannot just walked into somebody’s doors without waiting to be ushered in or even given clearance and acceptance.Rwanda Blog 6-2

    Wow!!!! Deep thinking here made me this morning to suddenly seem to see men, women and kids coming out of their underground story buildings. The hard blocks and hard cement separating these citizens of their own world seemed to give way as I reflected on the day they were brought low. Low!!! Low!!! Their stories and especially those of innocent kids will never be known or sufficiently told. God are you there????????

    Rwanda Blog 6-3

    Peter Ngong
    ABSW Student
    Doctor of Ministry Program