NY Conference Board of Church & Society responding to hate with love through prayer, action, and repentance

NY Conference Board of Church & Society responding to hate with love through prayer, action, and repentance

8/18/2017

Dear Justice Builders,
 
According to the United Methodist social principles, “we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life.”
 
This weekend in Charlottesville, VA even as white nationalists and neo Nazis lashed out with rage and hatred, people of faith showed up as a witness of love that stood up against the evil that is racism. Let us rise in solidarity with them in our own communities building up love and tearing down hate. As we process our hurt and anger, our faith moves us to respond with loving prayer and action as well as repentance.
 
We pray for the family and friends of Heather Heyer who was killed and for all who were injured when a domestic terrorist ran his car into a group of people who were standing for justice. We pray for the families and friends of the two troopers who were killed while monitoring the unrest. We pray for and stand in solidarity with all who feel threatened or hurt in body, mind, or spirit because of racist violence. And we pray for those who are experiencing and living out this hatred that their hearts and minds would be transformed through God’s grace.
 
In the midst of violence and tensions, we are challenged to model what it looks like to stand up and speak out whenever and wherever we encounter injustice. Neighbors in our own communities are engaged in racist activity overtly and covertly. Our youth are regularly exposed to words and actions that disparage people of color. Often they are not equipped to denounce the racism they experience. Our churches must stand with moral clarity.
 
Bishop Bickerton expresses in his powerful letter:

In each liturgy found in our hymnal, these words are repeated over and over again:

  • Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
  • Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
  • Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
  • Will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?
  • Will you faithfully participate in its ministries by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness?

Read these vows again. Pay attention to the words underlined. These are the “strongest possible terms” anyone could use in addressing the injustices associated with the actions of white supremacy, neo-Nazism, and blatant racism. They just so happen to be the words associated with what we have been asked to do every day as United Methodist Christians. We renounce wickedness, reject evil, resist oppression! We accept God’s power and confess our need for God’s grace! We strive for faithfulness, long to represent Christ in the world, and pray for the courage to strengthen our witness! This is who we are called to be!

 
As people of faith, and particularly as followers of Jesus Christ we remember and live out the vows made in our baptism. We are called every day to stand on the side of love, the perfect love that casts out all fear.
 
The United Methodist Social Principles state, “We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access.” In that spirit, here are some resources to help equip you and your church to lead in the face of racism:
 
New York Annual Conference:

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton Responds to Charlottesville Events
http://www.nyac.com/newsdetail/bishop-bickerton-responds-to-charlottesville-events-9061035

Effective Christian Leadership in a Multicultural World: CCORR Anti-Racism Training Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 8:30 AM to Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 4:00 PM, Mariandale Retreat & Conference Center, 299 North Highland Ave, Ossining, NY 10562 http://www.nyac.com/eventdetail/8754213

 
Churches, Activists and Police in Solidarity for Loving, Outspoken Communities or CAPSLOC is designed to get to the root causes of police violence in a way that highlights the humanity and needs of each individual involved. CAPSLOC brings together members of minoritized communities with the police who serve there. Workshops, and especially the follow up decisions will be tailored to each community they happen in. For more information or to get involved contact Jennifer Berry at jennifer.berry@nyac-umc.com
 
Across our Connection
Statement from Bishop Ough, President of the Council of Bishops about the violence in Charlottesville:
http://www.umc.org/news-and-media/bishop-ough-issues-statement-on-charlottesville
 
Statement from the General Commission on Religion and Race:
Religion and Race Denounces the Recent Violence and Racism in Charlottesville and Calls for All United Methodists to Love in Action http://www.gcorr.org/religion-and-race-calls-for-all-united-methodists-to-love-in-action/
 
Tell AG Sessions: Protect the civil rights of people of color and religious minorities Join with Church and Society General Secretary, Susan Henri Crowe in calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prioritize racial equity and justice.
https://www.umcjustice.org/what-you-can-do/advocacy/take-action/contact-ag-sessions
 
NY CBCS partner Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ NYC) have indicated that leaders in the Movement for Black Lives have called for a national day of action this Saturday, August 19th, to demonstrate the strength of opposition to resurgent white nationalism.
 
I invite you to add to this list on the NY Annual Conference Church and Society Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/nyacchurchandsociety/
 
Together we will cover our region and the world with peace with justice in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
In solidarity,
Rev. Melissa Hinnen
Chair, NY Annual Conference Board of Church and Society