On October 3, 2020, Agape Community celebrated our 31st annual (and first ever virtual) St. Francis Day. The event was titled “Becoming Anti-Racist to Build Beloved Community During COVID-19 and the 2020 Election.” It consisted of a morning session, an afternoon small group discussion, and an open mic. During the afternoon session, we heard talks from Sr. Melinda Pellerin, SSJ, Rev. Jonathan Betts (J.B.) Fields, and many more friends and members of the community including Julie Bradley, Edgar and Micah Hayes, Steve and Nancy James, and Jeanelle Wheeler. We have three recorded offerings to share with you.
1. Our pre-event video, streamed before the morning and afternoon sessions, compiled by Edgar Hayes:
2. Our morning session, featuring Edgar Hayes, Rev. J.B. Fields, Sr. Melinda Pellerin, SSJ, Micah Hayes, Jeanelle Wheeler, Julie Bradley, and Steve and Nancy James:
3. Our Open Mic Session:
https://tinyurl.com/y4o3zmlc Passcode: francisday#2
Resources for continuing reflection on the themes of our day:
Speaker Bios:Sr. Melinda Pellerin, SSJ has been a vowed member of the Sisters of Saint Joseph since October, 2019. Sr. Melinda is most proud of being a board member of the National Black Sisters’ Conference. She is a lecturer on African American History, the contributions of Black Catholics in the church, and topics related to Black Lives Matter. She is a Pastoral Minister at Holy Name Parish in Springfield, MA.
Rev. Jonathan Betts Fields is Youth Pastor at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, MI, Chief Innovator @#TwitterChurch, and a poet. He received his B.A. from Howard University and his M.Div from Harvard Divinity School. He spoke at Agape’s 29th St. Francis Day in 2018, “Confronting Systemic Racism: Listening to Voices for Racial Justice,” and participated in our virtual Arts and Activism night this summer.
Edgar Hayes is co-founder of Freedom Farm Community and a member of the Agape Mission Council. His wife Ann Rader and teenage sons, Micah and Josiah, welcome urban youth to learn about growing vegetables, sustainability and faith. Edgar is working to become a commissioned lay minister and has written articles for Servant Song about his experience with racism throughout his life.
Micah Rader-Hayes (14), son of Ann and Edgar, will add an intergenerational aspect to the conversation on systemic racism, and living through this Covid-19 pandemic as a teenager.
Steve and Nancy James, co-founders of Agape and members of Agape Mission Council, spent over 35 years as medical missionaries in Haiti, where they return periodically to assist the medical communities in holistic health care.
Julie Bradley is a life long friend, contributor, and now Office Manager to Agape Community. She graduated from Manchester Community College with a Business Administration Associates Degree in 2005. She has spent 15 years working in various capacities.
Jeanelle Wheeler, life-long Agape member, is a middle school ESL English teacher in Providence Public Schools. As an undergrad at Brown University, she majored in Literary Arts and French & Francophone Studies. She received a Fulbright Grant to teach English at an urban school in France and then returned to Brown for her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Currently she is involved in activism through the Sunrise Movement for climate justice and the Providence Teacher’s Union’s Committee on Racial Justice.