The Cross and the Lynching Tree

repost from
Written by Waide Harris
May 21, 2020
The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery

On February 23, 2020 Ahmaud Arbery, 25, left home and went for a jog. During his run, two white men follow Ahmaud, confront him with a loaded shot gun, assume he’s a suspected criminal, and within minutes of their encounter, according to the recorded video three shots are fired. Amhaud falls to the ground and dies.

“Racism is a virus. It infects the spirit.” (The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III)

On Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 6 pm EST, The United Church of Christ invites you to a live viewing of Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr’s cinematic sermon preached at Trinity UCC Sunday, May 17th entitled, The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery. Immediately following the live video a panel discussion with four respected thought leaders, racial justice advocates, and UCC pastors will discuss the impact of historical and present day acts of racism and violence towards African Americans and how the Christian Church can be actively involved in dismantling racism.


Help Florida Farmworkers Fight COVID-19

The Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice, of which Lakewood UCC is a member, is asking all participating organizations to make direct appeals to Gov. DeSantis to better protect farmworkers in Immokalee during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The United Church of Christ has already signed a national petition requesting Florida’s aid for the Immokalee farmworkers.  However, little has been done.  The Governor has sent some tests to the area but much more is needed to protect the workers and to provide health care, especially at this time.

Just as LUCC has written many post cards and letters to ask our legislators for humane immigration laws and treatment, we are being asked now to take action to support the migrant farmworkers in any or all of 3 ways.  

Please let Sue Sherwood ( know of whatever action you take so that we can give a tally of Lakewood’s action steps to the Pinellas Coalition.  Thank you for your lived faith! 

And, LUCC, thank you and be well!


Sue Sherwood 

                                                                          ACTION STEPS

1) Sign and share this petition:  (You may choose the option to share the post on FB or other media.)

2) Call Governor DeSantis at 850-488-7146, using the script below.

3)  If the Governor’s line is busy, you may email him at, using the script.

      Hello, my name is _____.  I live in ______ (city or zip code).  I am calling because I am deeply concerned about the farmworker community in Immokalee, FL.  The combination of crowded living and working conditions for these “essential workers” – with virtually no access to healthcare – is putting the lives of those who feed us at risk.  

      I urge you, Governor, to take immediate action to protect our Florida farmworkers’ health and safety: 

           1) Build a temporary field hospital in Immokalee where people who test positive for COVID-19 can isolate and be treated.

           2) Provide personal protection equipment (PPE) – especially masks – and sanitization materials to farmworkers traveling to and from the fields.  

           3) Provide accessible COVID-19 tests for free in Immokalee, when they become available.

           4) Allocate public funds for economic support for farmworkers.

Governor, please let me know your position on this troubling issue and your plans for providing urgently-needed medical resources for the Immokalee community. Thank you and be well.                     

April 1st Census Day

Even when staying apart & practicing #socialdistance, we can still act together to build a better future. Make a difference TODAY by taking the #2020Census online at Take 10 mins to shape the next 10 years of political representation & federal funds in #PinellasCounty. Learn more:

#MakePinellasCount #CensusDay #PinellasStrong #AloneTogether.

Census Updates

The Census Bureau has changed its operational plans significantly – specifically, online self-response will now continue through August 14 and any ground operations will be suspended for several more weeks pending further risks posed by the spread of the virus. Details at this link.

The Census Response Rate map is up and running now. You can see current results at the Census Response Map. Pinellas currently has a 38% response rate, on par with many parts of the country and slightly higher than the state of Florida.

On Liberty and Slavery (audio & text)

George Moses HortonOn March 1st, 2020, the choir of Lakewood UCC performed a new anthem composed by the church’s music director, Hilton Kean Jones with Jones on piano and Jan Trebesch on organ. The anthem is a setting of the text, On Liberty and Slavery, by George Moses Horton who was an African-American poet from North Carolina, the first to be published in the Southern United States. His book was published in 1828 while he was still enslaved. He did not gain freedom until 1865, late during the Civil War. — Wikipedia He was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, NC. He died in 1883, was educated at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and published these books: Naked genius, The Black bard of North Carolina.

Click on the arrow in the player below to listen to anthem for free and with no download.

Here is a link to the text of Rev. Wells’ sermon the day this anthem was first performed:

Here is the text of the poem by George Moses Horton, that is set by the anthem.

On Liberty and Slavery

by George Moses Horton
Alas! and am I born for this,
To wear this slavish chain?
Deprived of all created bliss,
Through hardship, toil and pain!

How long have I in bondage lain,
And languished to be free!
Alas! and must I still complain—
Deprived of liberty.

Oh, Heaven! and is there no relief
This side the silent grave—
To soothe the pain—to quell the grief
And anguish of a slave?

Come Liberty, thou cheerful sound,
Roll through my ravished ears!
Come, let my grief in joys be drowned,
And drive away my fears.

Say unto foul oppression, Cease:
Ye tyrants rage no more,
And let the joyful trump of peace,
Now bid the vassal soar.

Soar on the pinions of that dove
Which long has cooed for thee,
And breathed her notes from Afric’s grove,
The sound of Liberty.

Oh, Liberty! thou golden prize,
So often sought by blood—
We crave thy sacred sun to rise,
The gift of nature’s God!

Bid Slavery hide her haggard face,
And barbarism fly:
I scorn to see the sad disgrace
In which enslaved I lie.

Dear Liberty! upon thy breast,
I languish to respire;
And like the Swan unto her nest,
I’d like to thy smiles retire.

Oh, blest asylum—heavenly balm!
Unto thy boughs I flee—
And in thy shades the storm shall calm,
With songs of Liberty!

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Pearson, 2006)

George Moses Horton

Born a slave on William Horton’s tobacco plantation, George Moses Horton taught himself to read. Around 1815 he began composing poems in his head, saying them aloud and “selling” them to an increasingly large crowd of buyers at the weekly Chapel Hill farmers market. Students at the nearby University of North Carolina bought his love poems and lent him books. As his fame spread, he gained the attention of Caroline Lee Whiting Hentz, a novelist and professor’s wife who transcribed his poetry and helped publish it in her hometown newspaper. With her assistance, Horton published his first collection of poetry, The Hope of Liberty (1829), becoming the first African American man to publish a book in the South—and one of the first to publicly protest his slavery in poetry.

Horton hoped to earn enough money from the publication of his book to buy his freedom, but his attempts were denied despite significant support from members of the public, including the governor.

He learned to write in 1832. In the early 1830s, with a weekly income from his poems of at least $3, Horton arranged to purchase his time from his owner, and became a full-time poet, handyman, and servant at the university. He continued to buy his own time for more than 30 years while publishing a second collection of poetry, The Poetical Works (1845), and continuing to appeal for his freedom.

After the Civil War, Horton traveled with the 9th Michigan Cavalry Volunteers throughout North Carolina. During those travels, he composed the poems that make up his third collection, Naked Genius (1865), published in Raleigh. After 68 years as a slave, he settled in Philadelphia for at least 17 years of freedom before his death, circa 1883.

His legacy is celebrated by the residents of Chatham County: he is the namesake of Horton Middle School, June 28 was declared George Moses Horton Day in 1978, and in 1997 he was declared the Historic Poet Laureate of Chatham County. Horton’s poetry is featured in the Norton Anthology of African American Literature, and in 1996 he was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. A selection of his poems appears in The Black Bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and His Poetry (1997, ed. Joan R. Sherman).

Horton’s poetry displays a keen ear for rhythm and rhyme and a circumspect understanding of human nature. His poetry explores faith, love, and slavery while celebrating the rural beauty of Chatham County, home of the plantation on which Horton spent much of his life.

A historic marker stands near where Horton’s plantation was located.


Maximo Elementary Project Report

LUCC delivered 25 Sack Packs and 25 Activity Packs to Maximo Elementary Tuesday. Olivia and Claudia did their shopping magic in 1 hour and then put all the packs together.  I delivered them to Ms. Jones at Maximo Elementary. Thanks everyone for another awesome ministry to benefit  homeless children at Maximo Elementary.  A total of $978 was donated for this project. Olivia took pictures today which she will pass on. -Emily Bell

Olivia Gibson, Claudia Rodriguez, and Emily Bell load up all 25 packs to take to Maximo!