Fellowship at Auschwitz
I found out in March that I was accepted into the 2023 Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics Program (faspe-ethics.org) for their summer program in Germany and Poland. I am beyond humbled to have been chosen from amongst the many people who applied to get into the program, but more importantly, I am honoured to be able to represent my religious tradition in the UCC and St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, my seminary at VST, the music community of Vancouver, my own family history, and the many communities (such as St. Andrew’s Hall) that continue to love and support me into the person and pastor that I am becoming.
This program examines the ways in which various fields (business, design & technology, journalism, law, medical, and seminary) failed to act as safeguards against the rise of Nazi Germany, and worse, how many organizations and individuals collaborated and supported in the murder of 6 million Jews, and the murder of many other ethnic, political, religious, and marginalized peoples during the war. The church, despite proclaiming a faith in the figure of Jesus who was himself a racialized gender-fluid rabbi that was executed under the hands of the Roman state, played a unique role in creating, supporting, and sustaining the Nazi regime in their goal to eradicate the Jewish people. For many of us, including myself, that practice Christian faith, we do so in the long shadow that the church casts upon us, even as we seek to better follow the light that the figure of Jesus beckons us toward.
The program is designed to help developing religious leaders, of any religious tradition, to see where their communities of faith and denominations are currently failing. This is so important in the Canadian context where we are actively wrestling with the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the ongoing discovery of the children in the residential school system, of which our Indigenous siblings long knew. Likewise, in a world that is plagued by religious violence against 2SLGBTQIA+ people, other religious minorities (Myanmar, China), and inter/intrareligious conflicts (Russia-Ukraine, the controversies and conflicts in the Muslim world for example, Israel-Palestine relations, to name but a few), the lessons that FASPE offers are invaluable as peace-seeking religious leaders strive to find the new way forward – one built on channels grounded in the peace and love of God (however understood).
Vancouver, BC, based preacher and musician, Benjamin MacRae, specializes in modern music and the spoken word, blending influences from across the diverse traditions of music and Christian spirituality. Benjamin is an MDiv student at VST.