Peace and Justice
I read the letter from the College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction on Sunday. It is a long letter. I have shortened it a bit for the newsletter. I omitted the introduction from Bishop Leonard Fairley, the president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops(and an African American). The full text can be found at:
A Pastoral Letter to United Methodist of the Southeastern Jurisdiction
June 5, 2020
We, the White Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, call upon all United Methodists to stand with and see our Black brothers and sisters.
As White American Bishops, we stand up and stand with our Black Bishops in the Church who have consistently named and called out the systemic and sinful practice of discrimination that has been pervasive in the United States since the first slaves walked the shores of this land. For our failure to join our sisters and brothers we ask forgiveness.
. . . We stand up and stand with the Black Communities across our Episcopal Areas recognizing that we who have been in positions of power and privilege have been silent. In our silence we have and do sin. We implore all United Methodists across the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church to exercise influence and power to be agents of repentance, reconciliation, reformation, and restoration in a system that has failed to bring hope to all God’s children of color.
… We stand up and stand with all persons who live in fear of the very systems designed to protect them.
… We stand up and stand with all persons whose anger has reached the point of intolerance due to failure after failure to change systemic racial injustice which has created the climate where black lives can be snuffed out without consequence.
… We and stand against any systems of injustice that treat people differently because of the color of their skin. We call on the people called Methodist to live fully into our baptismal vows to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin.
We believe . . . that each person, individually, needs to engage in self-examination. Self-examination includes educating oneself about the roots of racism from slavery to lynching to racial segregation and Jim Crow to contemporary presumptions of guilt, incarceration, and police violence. Self-examination means scrutinizing one’s beliefs, attitudes, and actions. A beginning place is for each of us to read https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/letter-birmingham-jail
In our Baptism we are called to accept the freedom and power given by God to resist evil, injustice and oppression however, wherever, and whenever they are present.
We. . . . cry out to the people of The United Methodist Church to unite our hearts, our minds, our souls and our strength now to step into this present brokenness. We do so believing that out of the pain of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, and countless others whose names have faded, that these senseless killings will stop and healing can begin.
Let us now, this day, stand up and stand with our Black brothers and sisters so that we will be united as one body in Christ, redeemed by his blood. May we be one in Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory.
This is our deepest prayer.
The Holy Work Before Us
Join with us in recommitting ourselves to non-violently exposing and opposing injustice, racism, and violence even when it resides in our own hearts. We must not allow our righteous indignation and prophetic calls for justice to become spiritually hollow with no moral integrity to speak into a world that is in desperate need of the fresh bread of hope.
If we are unwilling to walk the path of Jesus Christ and truly acknowledge white privilege, then all our statements simply become documents gathering dust on the selves of empty promises.
We can answer the cries we hear in the midst of protests—cries of injustice, fear, and anger, that when gone unanswered turn violent. If Jesus is indeed the answer let us dare to see one another as beloved children of the living God deserving of love, mercy, and justice.
In the name of Jesus Christ this is our work and we dare not abandon it or the world because we desire privilege and power over what the Lord requires of us.
Please join us in this holy work of dismantling racism in its subtle and overt forms. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.