‘Our wonderful, complicated American story’ 

Senator Raphael Warnock shares his thoughts on politics at Tabernacle service.

Senator Warnock speaks at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs Sunday. — Natalie Aymond

Updated 7/13

On Sunday morning, Senator Raphael Warnock, who is also a pastor, spoke at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, by no means his first time appearing there. His talk was centered around the themes in his recently published book: “A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story.” In his book, Warnock details the progress of the nation’s journey, as well as the shortcomings that are making progress more difficult. 

Warnock, having been elected to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 5, experienced a day of great joy for his family and himself that quickly turned to despair with the attack on the U.S. Capitol the next day, Jan. 6. With this, Warnock talked a lot about choices in the face of evil. He asked the crowd which nation we want to be, and which nation we will choose to be: that of Jan. 5, a joyous day with political change, or that of Jan. 6, violence and tragedy. 

A large audience gathered in and outside the Tabernacle for Warnock’s sermon, some people bringing lawn chairs to avoid the crowd inside. Parking for the event was no easy task. What was felt in numbers was also felt in passionate responses from the crowd, as throughout the sermon, many of Warnock’s points seemed to be punctuated with applause, cheering, and “amens” from the audience. The audience gave him a standing ovation before he even began speaking, showing their admiration. Security also seemed to be a priority for the gathering, as police officers were set up around the building and, right after the service finished, the crowd was asked to remain in their seats until everyone on the stage had exited. With this, Warnock was quickly ushered into a car before any crowd members could really interact with him. Some folks still lingered around his car, trying to take pictures or give him notes, but the car was driven away before a larger crowd could gather.

Warnock touched on the recent actions by the the U.S. Supreme Court, saying, “I know you are frustrated with this court, this assault on just common sense, gun safety, women’s reproductive rights.” He implored the audience to view this as a signal from God for a glimpse of hope and possibility, recalling the judicial hearing for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. With her confirmation, Warnock wrote a letter to his 5-year-old daughter Chloé that said, “Today we confirmed to the United States Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. In the long history of our nation, she is the first Supreme Court justice who looks like you, with hair like yours.” He connected the recent SCOTUS rulings to this by saying, “What we do in this defining moment in our country is a letter to our children. We have to decide what we want that letter to say.”   

A way out of no way is a phrase that, as Warnock explained, captures the ability to find peace in struggle, love in hate, and so on. It is the prevention of being “handicapped by perception,” as he said he feels our nation can be, as “there are some things you can’t see because of where you’re sitting.” This speaks to the political journey Warnock has been on, in which he acknowledges, “who is in the room changes the conversation,” and without removing stigma, there is no possibility to transform big crowds into beloved communities. 

This beloved community we must create, Warnock said, “is what our wonderful, complicated American story is about. It is about the democratization of a democracy. It is about becoming who we say we already are: that all these truths are self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator of certain inalienable rights of all men, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”    

Updated to correct a quote from Sen. Warnock’s remarks -Ed. 


  1. Great journalism! Natalie Aymond beautifully captures the essential message of Warnock’s eloquent sermon. She adds information about the tight securrity and the enthusiasm of the crowd inside and outside of the Tabernacle. I wish she had included something about how Cathlin Baker, Andrew Patch, and Richard Taylor managed to bring off something for the first time in 150 years — a joint service of Union Chapel and the Tabernacle. That is a story almost as amazing locally as Warnock’s achievements as a religious and political leader, nationally and in Georgia

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