Letter to Charlottesville

Letter to Charlottesville


Board of Church & Society

8/17/2017

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 this 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!