Alert: Journey to Justice in DC, November 12-14, 2000

11/1/2000 For Immediate Release

Dear friends,

Are you joining us in DC for this historic event? Are you pre-registered? Everything is taking shape beautifully. Follow this link for the latest (and possibly the final) schedule. If you have comments or questions feel free to email either of our Co-Chair (Kara Speltz at or Bill Carpenter at Or call or email me.

After this ALERT if you register, you will receive last minute bulletins with news and information about our time in Washington, DC. Because so many new folks are registering on a daily basis (hooray and hallelulah), we need to simplify the process of keeping you on line. Here’s a summary of important information. Print it. Save it. Carry it with you.

TRANSPORTATION TO DC: There are still excellent airline buys at and other on line cheap ticket web pages. Or come by bus, train, or car. If you can’t afford a ticket, don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help. That way, they, too, can stand with us against injustice.

OUR HOTEL IN DC: The Washington Plaza, Thomas Circle, is still offering the $99 (for 2) and $119 (for 4) room rate. Call 202 842 1300 and refer to Soulforce Group # 9956. For those of you wanting to come in before Sunday or stay after Tuesday, the Hotel has made these rates available to us for any length of continuous stay.

FREE HOUSING IN DC: If you would like to stay in someone’s home or apartment, contact Karen Weldin ( She will send you the name of someone who is offering housing. The rest is in your hands.

REGISTRATION, SUNDAY, NOV. 12, 1:00 – 2:00 PM:Soulforce Central is at NATIONAL CITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 5 Thomas Circle. This is the time to pick up your registration materials, your ID badge, your Soulforce shirt, maps, your Defendant and Medical forms. This is also the time to sign up for your Holocaust Museum tour. If you CANNOT be present Sunday, there will be a registration table at the Washington PLAZA hotel (just across Thomas Circle from the Church) on Sunday evening and Monday morning and at the Rally/Training Monday evening.

TRAINING, SUNDAY, NOV. 12, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM:This is an important review of the Soulforce principles as they are being applied in our DC direct actions. You will be assigned a squad leader, trained in nonviolent response, and equipped for both actions at the National Shrine. If you CANNOT be at this important training, you can be assigned a squad leader on Monday at 2:00 PM at National City Christian Church and be trained for Tuesday’s direct action at the Rally/Training Monday evening.

VIGIL MONDAY AFTERNOON, NOV. 13, 2:00 – 6:00 PM: At the training on Sunday, Nov. 12, Soulforce will provide you a mock turtle, long sleeve white shirt as standard dress for the Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning VIGILS. If it is cold, wear protective sweaters or shirts under the shirt provided. That shirt has our important slogans front and back and must be worn. There will be NO civil disobedience during Monday’s silent vigil from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. We will gather at National City Christian Church at 2:00 PM that day for an hour of preparation, training, and reflection after your (short) morning visit to the Holocaust Museum. You will be taken by chartered bus from the Church to the National Shrine and back to the Church in time for a 6:45 dinner provided by Equal Partners in Faith.

MONDAY EVENING DINNER, RALLY AND TRAINING, NOV. 13: There is very little time between the afternoon Vigil and the evening Rally/Training. Stay in uniform. Use toilets at the Church. Don’t plan to return to your home or hotel between the Vigil and the evening’s events. The Rally/Training will be a highlight of your visit to DC. There will be wonderful music, civil rights, Taize, and black gospel songs with special musical guests. And you will be inspired and informed by leaders of other civil rights movements including William Sloan Coffin, James Lawson, and Arun Gandhi. You will meet John McNeil and other Catholic heroes and sheroes. And you will be trained and equipped for Tuesday’s direct action as a part of this exciting evening. The media will be present.

VIGIL AND DIRECT ACTION TUESDAY AFTERNOON, NOV. 14: You will be assigned a squad leader during one of our training times. We will assemble, travel, and vigil together in these 10-12 member squads. You DO NOT NEED to be arrested to be a full and important member of your squad. When (and if) an arrest takes place, it will be carefully and calmly planned with the DC Police and the National Shrine. Those not being arrested will simply step back; while those being arrested will step into place with their squad leader, be warned by the police, and then led to police busses or processed and release on the spot.

SCHEDULE, NOVEMBER 12-14: Be sure to print the schedule and save it (link here to the latest schedule). When and if there are changes, we will notify you immediately. We have chartered buses to take all of us from National City Christian Church to the National Shrine on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning and return. That will make it easier for everyone. However, if you take the Red Line (subway) exit at Brookland/CUA Metro Station. If you are driving, parking is a problem. Park as close as you can to our assembly point at Michigan and 10th. If you are late, cab out and return by our busses.

ARREST: To be arrested for an act of civil disobedience in Washington, DC, is only a misdemeanor, like a traffic ticket, that you can wear proudly like a badge of courage. The fine is determined at the time. I’ve never even paid a fine for a civil disobedience arrest in DC; but it will very likely be well under $100. The record of your arrest can be expunged with a letter to the judge. I have been arrested many times in DC and sadly, these arrests have never even appeared on my police record. However, our legal liaison, Karen Ball, will tell us every detail that she can during our Sunday training and our Monday evening Rally.

POSSIBLE JAIL STAY: There is the possibility that those who choose NOT to pay the small fine can elect to stay in jail (as an act of personal commitment) until his or her hearing before a judge. If you are interested in considering staying in jail, email Jimmy Creech, the Soulforce Board Chair, at He will include you in a group of folks from Soulforce and DignityUSA who are discussing this possibility.

CONTINUING OUR VIGIL, NOV. 14-16: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops will be meeting through Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Hyatt Regency. We are recruiting a small team of volunteers to maintain a vigil there on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday. If you are interested in more information contact one our Co-Chair Kara Speltz at

UNDERSTAND THE CASE AGAINST ROMAN CATHOLIC TEACHING: Before arriving in Washington, DC, go to the web (If you don’t have a computer, go to a friend’s home to a library or a school.) Read the Nugent/Gramick article on "The Roman Catholic Church and Homosexuality". Read our two letters to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (and their reply). Understand why we are taking these direct actions in DC so that you can represent us to the media that will be present. We must be able to present our case simply and clearly. It can be said in a long sentence:

"The Roman Catholic Church teaches that our sexual orientation is "objectively disordered," that our loving acts of intimacy are "intrinsically evil," that we should not be parents, teachers, coaches, serve in the military, ordained for ministry, or share in the rights and protections of marriage. These teachings lead to discrimination suffering and death."

SIGNING THE PLEDGE TO NONVIOLENCE: Every Soulforce action includes signing the Pledge to Nonviolence. The Pledge was written by our own Dr. James Lawson and used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the March in Birmingham and other direct actions in the 50s and 60s. PLEASE, go to the web page []. Study the Four Step Journey into Soulforce. Sign the Pledge on Line (or create your own pledge to nonviolence and sign it). If your anger at Roman Catholic teachings could spill over into violence of the heart, tongue, or fist, then please, let’s work on that anger together.

GETTING YOUR LOCAL MEDIA INVOLVED: We have discovered that the best way to make our case nationally is through your local newspaper, radio, and television reporters. There is a complete briefing on the web, "Talking to the Media-Things to Remember" by Laura Montgomery-Rutt, our media liaison. Now is the time to call a local religion reporter or assignment editor. Just call up and tell them who you are, why you are going to DC to oppose Catholic teachings. Tell them you are ready to be interviewed. Enjoy! We’ve had amazing front page stories that make our case clear just because a person like you had the courage to pick up the phone and call.

ADOPT A BISHOP: Be sure to write your "adopted" bishop. Send your story. Include a photo of you, your partner, your family. Enclose a copy of our first or second letter to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Copy them from theweb. Invite him to walk down from the Shrine, Monday, 4-6, and meet you as we stand vigil. You will be carrying a sign with his name on it. If you don’t have a bishop, email Roger Longest at He will send you the name and address.

PREPARING YOUR SPIRIT FOR RENEWAL: Gandhi and King both remind us that we do justice FOR OUR SAKE. Even if the bishop’s don’t change their minds, your own spirit will be renewed or we will have failed. Let this Journey to DC become a major source of spiritual renewal in your own life. Spend time each day in silence. Listen for the voice that only speaks in the silence. Get focused. Inhale deeply. Hold it. Now exhale slowly. Your Creator dreamed that one day you would join Her in seeking justice for the outcast. Once again, that day has come.

Mel White, Jimmy Creech, and the Soulforce Board of Directors

Soulforce, P.O. Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA 92652
Phone: (949) 455-0999 Fax: (949) 455-0959

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