Bishop pastoral statement on racism and violence

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UMEpiscopalShieldOn August 12 a national tragedy occurred (again) when supremacist and neo-Nazi groups went to Charlottesville, VA and gave rise to violence, destruction, and death. We are grieving for the individuals involved but even more so, what these acts of racism and violence say about us as a people.

I encouraged, along with most religious leaders, that every church prayed for justice last Sunday. Many rewrote sermons or made statements in the service and/or held times of prayer. Did you? Did your church have a prayer?

I’m asking that we continue to reflect on this tragedy and have prayer about racial justice. It’s reported that there are more scheduled rallies by these hate groups in the coming weeks.  We need to pray for those communities of faith that will, like in Charlottesville, seek to literally link arms and walk for justice.

I can see how people develop attitudes of racism and supremacy in our culture, but I cannot understand how people who claim Christianity can harbor, nurture and promote such attitudes toward others. Hate and racism are taught to people—young and old alike—and yes, such attitudes and beliefs have become more prevalent, open and emboldened. Racial justice isn’t just a social concern; it is a gospel teaching.  As followers of Jesus, we need to counter those messages of hate and racism with the teachings of Jesus.

But my heart is heavy for other places in our world, too.  Please continue to pray for peace with North Korea. Also, remember the people of Sierra Leone who have experienced a devastating mudslide on August 14 with hundreds of people missing and dead at this writing.

If a stranger to Christianity walked into your church or listened to your private prayers, would the stranger be able to tell that our Christian, specifically United Methodist, faith loves the world as God does?

Thank you for your faith, witness, and courage!

~Bishop Sally Dyck

For resources to encourage conversations in your churches visit the General Commission on Religion and Race website at www.gcorr.org.

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