Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018

A sign of our time: he slammed a president last week. This week, he pays tribute to one.

This message on the poster in front of the United Methodist Building is a response to the measures taken at the US-Mexico border. (General Council of the Church and Society of the United Methodist Church) Theresa Vargas local columnist who had previously written for the local business team about poverty, race and people with disabilities. There were only a few hours left before the body of former President George H. W. Bush arrived in the nation's capital and Warren Gill has not yet decided what to write about his death. Whatever he chose, he had to adapt to the moment. He also had to adapt to a defined amount of space. Three lines to be precise. Nor could it be stuck on the sign in front of the United Methodist Building. The signs of the church have long been platforms for stimulating statements. Because of their limited size, they also encouraged brevity. In this way, the marquee in front of the United Methodist Building is no different from others across the country. But what makes his messages more meaningful – and a chronicle of our time – is his location. The building is not hidden in a suburban street. It sits on Capitol Hill in the center of a power nest. Its neighbors are the US Capitol Building, the US Supreme Court and the Hart Senate Office Building. This means that all day, politicians, protesters and tourists walk around the building, where their eyes stop on the sign and absorb his words. Sometimes these words are comforting. Other times, they are insightful. More than once, they have been controversial. The message on the panel last week was hard enough for an image of it posted on Twitter to have attracted more than 12,000 shares and more than 42,000 "likes". He criticized measures taken at the US-Mexico border against women and children in a caravan of migrants that President Trump described as full of criminals and gang members. The message was a play on the following biblical sentence: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." It read: "I was a stranger and you've lacerated me." … wait a second. "Some companies have people dedicated to their Twitter accounts, and I wondered if the sign also had a person behind him, so I ended up at Warren Gill's office this week the day he was wondering what to write about. Bush knew that people would pass the sign to the Capitol Rotunda to see the 41st President's flag-draped coffin and pay tribute to him, and he knew the message would remain unresolved on Wednesday when the nation will mark Bush's funeral on a day of mourning Gill weighed his options He also considered space.One of the longer messages appearing on the panel contained 14 words. "Just like Twitter, there is has a character limit, "he said.
Warren Gill, presented in his office on December 3, 2018, oversees messages that appear on the sign in front of the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC (Theresa Vargas / TWP) Gill, aged 35 and studied at seminary a pastor before deciding that this was not what he wanted to do, was promoted, several months ago, to the post of Director of Communications of the General Council of Church and Society, which is the arm of the social justice and advocacy for the United Methodist Church. In this new role, he also became the guardian of the brand. He can not find all the messages in it. Policy staff contribute to ideas and wording. But Gill finally decides what's going on there and when a new message is justified. This is a responsibility he does not take lightly, because he recognizes who can see these words: people who make decisions and laws that are felt far beyond Washington. "There are a lot of powerful people passing by," Gill said. "We use this space to communicate our values ​​and, hopefully, to bring about change in the country and in the world." He and others in his office also approach the conversation from a different place from the buildings. surrounding them. "We are not in the loop for the votes," he said. "We are not in it for money. We are here to be a moral voice in this context. "

A sign in front of the United Methodist Building. (General Council of the Church and Society of the United Methodist Church)

Another sign in front of the United Methodist Building. (General Council of the Church and the United Methodist Church Society) The messages on the sign relate to health care, gun violence and minimum wage. During the hearing at which Christine Blasey Ford gave detailed testimony of her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the poster marks what the women say all over the country. It read that "women have the right to live without violence". On that day, protesters left grommets on the steps of the Supreme Court building. Suddenly, they also started to place them on the panel. "He had us in tears here," said Gill. Gill, who had studied at George Washington University before earning a masters degree in political communication from the American University, said he was skeptical about the protests. But now, he said, he recognizes the power of these voices, because he can hear them from his office. "I do not always agree with all the demonstrations," he said. "But I like living in a country where people can demonstrate. I love this freedom. This freedom, of course, also allows people to criticize the messages that appear on the panel – and they do. The church includes members Clinton and Trumps and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Gill said angry emails sent to his mailbox came from the left and right. A common refrain he hears refers to the following Bible sentence: "Obey the rulers who have authority over you." Tells them, not the politicians. When Gill finally chose the right words to capture Bush's death, the message did not affect politics at all. He simply recognized the loss and spoke of hope for the former leader, while referring to his words:
thousand points of light. And he did this in three lines: In Memoriam Pres, George W. W. Bush, a perpetual light shone upon him.
A sign honors the 41st President on this photo of December 3, 2018. (General Council of the Church and Society of the United Methodist Church).

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