An open letter from the Justice and Reconciliation Team
A letter to Christians who are United Methodists in Western North Carolina
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As Christians we are called on by our Lord to do our duty to our country, obey just laws, pay taxes and vote. Unfortunately, in the process leading up to the elections we were swept up in the incessant campaigning and put our hopes in the candidates for the parties that seemed to best represent our views. To the extent that we placed our hope in the candidates we have sinned, our hope is only rightfully in the Lord. Let us repent.
Fear has been rising. Fear is the emotion we feel when we perceive, whether real or imagined, that something is being taken from us. The natural response to fear is anger towards the thing or people that we believe is threatening to take something from us. We have been awash with anger.
Traditionally and currently much of that anger is focused on the foreigner. Many of our forefathers when they first arrived in this land were the focus of the anger of those who had preceded them here, with the exception of slaves taken from their land and arrived here against their will. They were accused of taking jobs and prosperity away from the "real Americans." Once again we are tempted to do the same. Let us repent if we have fallen into this sin.
What is the real reason that we are afraid and angry? Truthfully it is because we have not trusted God. Let us repent and trust God, not the Democratic, Republican, or other parties. Scripture shows that God removes blessing when God's people do not care for: foreigners, widows, orphans, poor and others who are in need (1). Let us repent of our selfishness and recommit to help those in need.
Mistreatment of people of color through the institution of slavery and then Jim Crow has been one of the greatest sins staining our national consciousness. Great advances have been made in outlawing racially discriminatory practices. Thank God for those who have fought for these changes. However, suspicion of the other and racial attitudes remain and are daily experienced by our; Black, Brown and sisters and brothers of other minorities. Let us search our hearts and ask God to root out remaining prejudices.
This is not theoretical; it is very personal and real. Many of us have personal stories and other stories have been shared by our neighbors and parishioners. Here are two of the many stories: Within the past couple of weeks, two precious elementary school girls who attend a United Methodist Church came home from public school and their grandmother was shocked when the girls told her how afraid they were because at school that day, they were told by their classmates that they would be deported. It should not make any difference, because these girls, their parents and grandparents are all U.S. citizens. In another recent incident, one of our United Methodist Clergy received a highly offensive text message, where the sender used derogatory insults and called her a "nigga."
We are called to be reconcilers through Christ. Let us go out of our way at church, work, school and in the neighborhood to fellowship with the other. As friendships develop let us make a safe space to hear each other's stories. Let us be humble when our conscience is pricked, let us repent and ask forgiveness, when we recognize that we have offended one who is made in God's image.
May all United Methodist Churches become safe places where all people, Black, Brown, White, American born, foreign born, citizen, resident, undocumented, gay, straight, poor, rich, feel safety and acceptance.
Our citizenship is in heaven(2). That is the loyalty that we are called to defend with only one weapon, love. Let our loyalty not be red, blue or green though they may be our voting preferences. While we are here, let us work for good and just laws, fair treatment, and the dignity of all people. Let us help those in need and pray for Christ's kingdom to come on earth. But when the end comes we will leave this world with the confidence of arriving at the kingdom of our true citizenship.
Yours in the Love of Christ,
On behalf of the entire
WNCC-Justice & Reconciliation Team
Co-Conveners Hispanic/ Latino Ministries-WNCC
Acting Chairperson WNCC- Justice & Reconciliation Team
DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE TWO-PAGE LETTER
- Jeremiah 5:25-31, Ezekiel 16:49
- Philippians 3:20
Read this Letter from Deborah Dangerfield, President of Black Methodists for Church Renewal:
The First Week Following the 2016 Presidential Election
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.