|Alison Harrington awarded Brave Preacher Award by Beatitudes Society
Rev. Alison Harrington, a 2006 Master of Divinity graduate at San Francisco Theological Seminary, is the recipient of The Beatitudes Society’s Brave Preacher Award. The immigration activist is pastor at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Ariz.
The Beatitudes Society’s Brave Preacher Award honorored a preacher for a compelling, prophetic sermon in response to the January 8, 2011, shootings in Tucson. Sermons were considered with attention to the preacher’s context, content, craft and connection to scripture, particularly Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Harrington’s sermon, preached the morning after the tragedy to a grieving congregation, is, as she writes in her description of her context, “close to the pain of the event itself.” It is also close to the text of the day and the challenge of keeping faith in the face of hard news.
To read the full text of her sermon, go to http://www.beatitudessociety.org/article/268-wade-in-the-water
Harrington discusses her preaching, her congregation--a longtime beacon for progressive social change--and her role as a publicly-engaged pastor in the state of Arizona:
“I preached this sermon during the regular Sunday morning service the day after the shootings,” Harrington said. “It was a difficult sermon to write and preach as myself and many others in the congregation knew many of the victims. Southside is a congregation that is on the front lines of many social justice issues here in Southern Arizona and as such we have worked with Congresswoman Giffords on a variety of occasions.”
As one of the founding congregations of the Sanctuary Movements of the 1980s, Southside has continued to look for ways to provided safe space for those on the margins. Southside is situated in a largely Latino barrio just south of downtown Tucson, and because this location the church finds itself standing with the poor and the forgotten on a daily basis. The congregation itself is a diverse mix of people of faith with white, African-American, Native American and Latino people from a variety of educational and class backgrounds.
“I submitted this sermon on recommendation from my congregation because it was so close to the pain of the event itself,” Harrington explained. “I thought about editing it and making it better before submitting it, but decided to leave it in the raw form in which it was delivered. If it is brave at all it is only because it includes my own confession of a time in which I too added to the vitriol of our state.”