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AGENCIES & ORGANIZATIONS
LET US BREATHE
A Clarion Call for the Church
Toska Medlock Lee,
Interim National Director and
Rev. Dr. Michael L. Bowie,
Incoming National Director,
Strengthening the Black Church
for the 21st Century (SBC)
“Strengthening the Black Church for the
21st Century (SCB21), a racial-ethnic
plan of the United Methodist Church, denounces the murderous actions of police and the racism and systemic oppression that is prevalent in the very DNA of the United States of America. The events over the past 7 days have revealed deep wounds that covered up the sin of racism, which has festered for decades. Wounds that seemingly will never heal.
SBC21 is not only lamenting for the loss of Black lives from the actions of law enforcement, we are also grieving the fact that Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at three times the rate of white people.”
“This pandemic of Covid-19, the pandemic of racism and a historic protest have crippled our nation to the point of more than 17,000 national guard being deployed to 23 states.”
"This is a clarion call that every leader of African descent in the UMC be of one accord and committed to standing against any form of evil that seeks to devalue and dehumanize Black people. It’s time that there is a clear and strategic agenda from the Black Church that will speak to the systemic injustices and racism that’s literally choking the BREATH from historically marginalized people and our CHURCH! e must stand together, speak together and declare that truly, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
See the full SBC Statement
BMCR Statement: A CALL TO ACTION
Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR)
“Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) stands in solidarity with any and all who fight for equity in economy of politics and pocketbooks. We speak in support of individuals, families, neighborhoods, cities, and entities who now sound the bell that has never ceased to toll, but has fallen on deafened ears for over 400 years. We can no longer hold our tongues no more than we can hold our breath. We have told the world and the church of our weariness from the incessant injustices that result from wars on us and any efforts we engage to overcome centuries of abuse in this country.”
“As BMCR, we call on every member of every United Methodist Church, regardless of political or theological persuasion, to enact the following:”
“Call on your episcopal and conference leaders to convene a task force to address the reality and eradication of white supremacy in your areas. – Lobby your mayors, county supervisors, and police commissioners to appoint a permanent Office of Independent Counsel who will be charged with the duty of investigating police shootings and misconduct – with such findings to be made public and adjudicated as all other crimes are adjudicated within the criminal and civil court system.”
“It is time for The United Methodist Church and The United States of America to come to grips with the reality that black folks are not responsible for racism or white supremacy.”
“BMCR wants the world and the church to know that black people are not responsible for what is happening on the streets of America, we simply suffer because of it. At this point, we callon our siblings of all racial/ethnic groups to speak up and speak out, because your silence is heard all too often in times like these. While you do that, we will tend to our mission of “raising up prophetic and spiritual leaders who will be advocates for the unique needs of black people in the United Methodist Church” and beyond.”
See the full statement
SEE THE UMKR STATEMENT:
UMKR Endorses the BMCR Call to Action,
Pledges Partnership with BIPOCSee it here
Act now to end racism and white supremacy
United Methodist Council of Bishops
“The voice of Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, resident Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington area, gave power to the realities, “Being Black is not a pre-existing condition; being Black is not justification for probable cause; being Black is not to be inherently suspicious nor suspect. Being Black is a gift from Almighty God and a manifestation of an aspect of God.” “
“As bishops of the United Methodist Church, we ask every United Methodist to reclaim their baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
We ask every United Methodist to name the egregious sin of racism and white supremacy and join together to take a stand against the oppression and injustice that is killing persons of color.
As bishops of the whole church we affirm the peaceful protests as a means of giving voice where it is needed most.
We are clear that it is beyond time for all United Methodists to act. It is time to use our voices, our pens, our feet and our heart for change.”
“As a next faithful step we ask United Methodists to read all they can on the subject of anti-racism and engage in conversations with children, youth and adults. Have conversations with coworkers and friends. These will not be easy but they will help us gain a greater appreciation for one another.”
“For at least the next 30 days, we ask every United Methodist everywhere to join in prayer at 8:46 a.m. and p.m. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time the officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck.”
See and download the Bishops’ full statement
Letter on Racism in Response to Recent Murders
by Police and Vigilantes
Western Methodist Justice Movement (WMJM)
"This letter is late!
George Floyd was murdered sixteen days ago. Since that time, protests have spread across this nation. People from every walk of life have gathered in the streets to insist that Black Lives Matter and to demand that a militarized policing culture that treats Black Lives with impunity must end now!"
“This letter is late!
We should have written it ages ago! More to the point, we should always have been actively involved in the work of creating a different kind of nation… a nation where people of African descent could walk the streets without fear of being targeted by police or vigilantes… where incarceration was not used as a form of racial control… where “micro”-aggressions against black and brown persons were called-out and rebuked… where black and brown people were given the same access to education, medical care, prosperity, and political power as white people… where Black Lives really did matter. We cannot tolerate a world where racism continues to be treated as the norm and where racist behaviors continue to be countenanced as even marginally acceptable.
If this means going to the streets to stop business as usual, then we must go to the streets. If it means voting to replace racist and white supremacist politicians with people of moral decency and good will, then we must vote. If it means boycotting businesses that engage in racist practices, fund racist politicians, or advocate racist public polices, then we must boycott. If it means investing in black and brown communities by shopping at black and brown owned businesses, doing business with black and brown owned banks, or making alliances with black and brown civic organizations, then we must invest. Above all, those of us who are white—who have benefitted for too many years from white privilege—must learn how to listen and follow instructions from those who have suffered for decades and centuries under the burdens of racism.”
It’s true that this letter is late. And we repent of the fact that we took so long
to write it. We write it now because we know that we can wait no longer. Our
waiting is an act of collaboration with the principalities and powers of this
world who wield racism as weapon of mass destruction. To wait is an act of
injustice. The days of caution are long past! The time for boldness is here!
See the full letter from WMJM
MARCHA Calls the Global Church to Eradicate Racism
Metodistas Representando la Causa de los Hispanos Americanos (MARCHA)
"MARCHA stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in protest around the globe of the vicious ways how black persons have been treated, injured and killed by members of the police, and the apparent immunity police officers receive after such brutal attacks. It is with great alarm and a righteous anger that we have seen the response of President Trump and his administration to the legitimate and peaceful protests of those who are seeking justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the long list of victims of police violence and abuse of power. The Black Lives Matter protests are calling for a true reform of a system that reveals practices that are racist and support white supremacy."
"We call the United Methodist Pastors and Congregations to denounce racism as antithetical to the gospel, lead their congregation in prayerful reflection of the dire effects of racism and white privilege, use the resources addressing these issues produced by the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), the General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) and the other general agencies; and organize constructive dialogues of communities of color with political leaders, police departments and grassroot organizations in their communities."
"We call our Central Conference siblings to pray for the United States as it struggles with the effects of racism and white privilege and to denounce any practices of systemic oppressions that are enforced upon them."
Read the full MARCHA Statement
Statement on the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery
General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR)
General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)
How long, O Lord, how long?
“The February killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, is another incident that torchlights the darkest moments of our history. The recurrence of these killings, coupled with the fact that justice is seldom served, is a strong indication of how deeply entrenched racism is in our society’s systems and beliefs.
Eric Garner, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Samuel DuBose, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Walter Scott are few of the many innocent black lives who have been killed by police officers. The incomplete list of the named and unnamed indicate the pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy in America.”
“Safety and security must be exercised in all communities and not deny equity to communities of color while positively privileging white communities. White supremacy must be eradicated. It is imperative for the white community to advance beyond mere statements condemning racially motivated violence. Policies must be adopted and implemented to ensure that incidents like the killing of Mr. Arbery are properly addressed, and recurrences are prevented.”
Read the full statement
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS IN THE UMC
Moving Toward the Pain
Erin Hawkins, General Secretary, General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), United Methodist Church
“It is no coincidence that the city of Minneapolis serves as a common backdrop for Mr. Floyd’s death to an egregious act of racism and for General Conference, which has at various times in its history sanctioned discrimination and racial oppression impacting the lives of people of color (and may do so again in 2021). We are being presented with a divine invitation to face the pain points of racial violence and oppression, to see the
realities of a denomination still mired in institutional racism reflected in the assault on black and brown personhood, and, finally, to choose once and for all the path of antiracism in word and deed.”
“To be clear, there is a need to address injustice in all its forms in every place that it exists. I wonder if this unexpected moment connecting the City of Minneapolis and The United Methodist Church — when both entities are being confronted with calls to address systemic discrimination — is an invitation to look in the mirror at the similarities that we hold in common. This reflection, should we have the courage to look, gives us the opportunity to see and acknowledge all of the ways that power is misused, hoarded and abused for the purpose of propping up and protecting institutional whiteness and its attendant maladies.”
“The road to Minneapolis and General Conference offers an opportunity for the people ofThe United Methodist Church to commit to the discipleship journey with anti-racism at the heart. If we say yes, Christ will lead us straight to the pain points. The next faithful step can be found there.
Read the full article
Rev. Dr. Byron Eric Thomas
Ben Hill United Methodist Church
“I called a friend and colleague this morning who serves in another Annual Conference. When he answered the phone, I told him that I was just calling to check and see how he was doing. The response I received was silence. It was a silence with which I was all too familiar. The kind that occurs where you can “hear” the weeping of another man’s soul. From a distance of 3,000 miles away, in the midst of a prolonged silence, I could hear the weeping – the wailing - of another man’s soul. I recognized it because my soul had been weeping and wailing. Tired. Tired in my own soul. I recognized tired in my brother’s soul. Wearied. . . worn. . . tired. This is where the events that have unfolded over the last few weeks have left me. I am angry! It is an anger born out of deep pain. It is born out of deep ache. It is not just my own ache, but it is a collective ache. It was in my father, my mother, my brothers...and now even my sons too bear this burden.
And yet, in spite of this terrible burden, I am who I am and would not want to be anyone else. I especially would not want to be white. THAT would be too much of a burden to bear indeed.”
Read his full message
A Message from Rev. Jason Radmacher
Pastor, Asbury Crestwood United Methodist Church, Tuckahoe, NY
In 1939, the two main branches of the Methodist Church
that had split prior to the Civil War gathered in Kansas City
to discuss reunification. The Uniting Conference, as it is
remembered, was a time of celebration for many of its
One bishop’s declaration summed up the jubilant mood in the room,
"Methodism in America proclaims to the world today,
with great joy, the culmination of one of the most outstanding
and far-reaching movements which the Church of Christ
has ever witnessed."
It was a warm fuzzy moment and Methodists were proud of a job well done.
Well, the majority were proud of the job that they had done.
The black delegates were in tears.
There was a problem with the plan of reunion. One of the conditions of reuniting Methodists from the North and the South was that the newly formed church would be racially divided.
The “most outstanding and far-reaching movement” that got the bishop all choked up was, in essence, Jim Crow's baptism.
How different the conference would have been if the bishops had called for the humble confession of racism rather than congratulating the Church for institutionalizing it?
What injustices could have been avoided had millions of Methodists united around the cause of Civil Rights in 1939?
How much more difficult have race relations in our country been because Christians were willing to say that racism was negotiable?
What was the way forward that remained closed off to the church because no one cared to listen to those who were hurting?
The Uniting Conference of 1939 is a clear case of pride robbing justice--of ignoring another's sorrow and pain in order to preserve one's own comforts and privileges.
To truly see pride’s destructive power at work, though, we don’t need to read a history book. We only need to look at our own hearts.
How are we going along and getting along with forces counter to Christ radical message of grace and welcome?
How is pride blinding us to lives that could be better if we would only admit our error and change our ways?
Whose suffering are we ignoring?
Whose suffering are our comforts creating?
The truth is there’s a little tyrant within all of us who is ready and willing to lash out whenever our egos are bruised and our pride wounded.
It’s the Gospel of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection, however, that invites us to just let our wounded pride go ahead and die, so that we might truly live in Jesus.
And that is why we call the "most outstanding and far-reaching movement” of Christ’s Gospel good news for all people.
Messages from Two Clergy Leaders in the
California-Pacific Annual Conference, UMC
Message from Bishop Thomas Bickerton, New York Annual Conference
With Great Privilege Comes Great Responsibility
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Executive Director, Pecometh Camp & Retreat Ministries, Centreville, MD, Minister-in-residence, Center for Clergy Excellence at Pecometh, Author of The Non-Anxious Leader Blog and Podcast
"Racism is a problem for people of color. Sexism is a problem for women. But it’s not their problem to fix. It’s the problem of those of us who benefit from privilege. If things are going to change, we’re the ones who need to speak and act."
This means not remaining silent in the face of the power and authority that reinforces privilege. It means when we have the power to hire, we work harder to find people who have been excluded. It means supporting legislation at every level that addresses systemic discrimination. Most of all, it means owning the fact that with great privilege comes great responsibility. Things won’t change until we who are privileged are willing to give it up for the common good.
My understanding of Jesus, my faith in God and my interpretation of scripture all tell me that this is so."
Read the full article
of George Floyd Solidarity & Intersectionality
Statements from United Methodists
Lights displayed at the Washington National Cathedral,
9 June 2020
An Appeal from UMKR
UMKR has important church legislation for our denomination's global General Conference, to be held in 2021. These resolutions address:
• protecting Palestinian children,
• defending the right to boycott,
•divesting from the bonds of occupation governments, and other timely justice issues.
We also have BIG PLANS for educating
A LOT of people throughout our church about Palestinian rights, with literature, displays, speakers, meals, and witness actions!
With very limited resources, UMKR has made a BIG impact in the global United Methodist Church! Groundbreaking divestment and boycott actions by the UMC would never have happened without UMKR's advocacy AND all the extraordinary partners and allies who helped us.
General Conference is always our BEST OPPORTUNITY to make a worldwide impactfor Palestinian rights throughout our denomination.
But, if we are to succeed in advocating for justice with thousands of United Methodists who come to General Conference from four continents,WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Click the green button and take action now:
Please give as generously as you can, and
know that whatever you are able to give
will be greatly appreciated.
Solidarity following the death