Emilie Townes: Lament in Faith Communities

Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes discusses the role of lament in speaking the truth about pain and injustice so that communities of faith can work toward freedom.

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Lament in Faith Communities: Reflective Practice

Use these questions to guide individual reflection or group conversation about Emilie Townes' video, "Lament in Faith Communities."

Extra wide mournings

Take what you learned from Emilie Townes' "Lament in Faith Communities" and spend more time reflecting on the ideas she presents. Use these questions for your own reflection or bring them to a group conversation. Learn, Reflect, Grow.


  • In her interview, Emilie Townes discusses lament as a way speaking the truth about what’s going on in our lives, as individuals or corporate bodies. How does this change the way you understand lament?
  • How can we have “true” corporate lament in our faith communities that allows every person’s voice be heard?
  • Emilie Townes talks about groups of people in scripture who express their lament in faith, even if they do not know that God will answer their prayers. What does it take to have this kind of faith?
  • In what ways can you (individually) name your pain? What will this offer you?
  • How can faith communities express their pain together? Where will this lead the community?
  • How can lament and expression of grief be productive


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Expressing Lament in Faith Communities

Discover ways to express lament in faith communities to work against injustice and toward freedom.

Emilie Townes calls faith communities to express lament together and tell the truth about what's going on in their lives. Likewise, in her Encounter, Rev. Jennifer Bailey calls for prophetic grief, a grief that challenges the sins of racism and white supremacy.  But how do we express this lament and prophetic grief? Bailey urges, “For those wondering how to start, you can begin in your own congregations. Refuse to be comforted. Lean into prophetic grief.” Prophetic grief is not one that stands separate from the injustice of the world, but it is an expression of pain that leads to action that challenges injustice and educates about the sins of injustice. So, here are some ideas to express lament grief in your own church communities.

  • If you’re a part of a church community deeply affected by injustice, create space and time for church members to express pain and grief. Allow each person to speak the truth of their lives.
  • If you’re a part of a church community that does not experience injustice on a daily basis, search for ways to grieve with those affected by violence and oppression.
  • In both of these expressions of grief, work together in the church communities to make sure this pain does not create more violence, but transforms into creative responses to the pain and violence.
  • Start a group in your church that organizes events and other opportunities for church members to learn about and address injustice. This group could also be responsible in finding ways the church can be more open and welcoming to all people.
  • Start a Sunday school class that educates members about how Christian churches have been complicit and actively involved in perpetuating injustice in cultures all over the world. In these classes, recognize your own biases so that you can be aware of how your experiences have inadvertently contributed to injustice.
  • Come up with your own creative, constructive ways to express lament that leads to working together with other church communities to resist racial injustice. Share these in the discussion thread below.

Out of grief can come truth. Out of pain can come creativity.

Let the Lord guide us as we seek ways to express lament in our church communities.


What are your ideas and insights to express prophetic grief and address racial injustice in your church communities?

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