May 14, 2020
Enough Is Enough! 
A Call to Address Racism and Racial Violence
The Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CORR) this week joined two United Methodist general agencies in speaking out about the continuing national plague of racial violence and injustice, most recently in the vigilante killing of Ahmaud Arbery (below), a young black man in Brunswick, Georgia, and the delayed response by law enforcement.
The UMC’s General Commission on Religion and Race and General Board of Church and Society issued a joint statement of protest May 8 that called on United Methodists to respond. ( See statement here.)  The conference CORR did likewise on Wednesday, May 13.

“This is yet one more attack and murder, one more lynching in a disgustingly long history of white supremacist violence against people of color in our society,” the commission asserted. “The uncaring delay of law enforcement in charging and arresting the assailants is no less egregious.

“We stand in solidarity with our responding general agencies, but today we also declare solidarity with all our neighbors, friends, colleagues, families, churches and communities of color who consistently endure hardship, oppression and terror based solely on their skin color and racial-ethnic origins. We cannot accept these actions as merely ‘the way things are.’ We must put our faith into action and stand against injustice.”

But the commission also expanded its concern and call to action to include the stubborn sin of racism and white supremacy that has long afflicted the church and the nation. Its statement addresses health care inequities that increase many racial-ethnic persons’ vulnerability to the current COVID-19 pandemic and also the longstanding problem of environmental racism so destructive to human life in economically disadvantaged communities.

“Our eyes have been opened, and the harsh realities of racism and racial violence have been exposed for all those who are willing to see, acknowledge and act on what the Lord requires of us: “To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” (Micah 6:8)” reads the statement.

Also cited are “essential workers among us who are disproportionately people of color and are unable to secure a living wage or afford medical treatment when they become ill.”

‘Do Good, Do No Harm, and Stay in Love with God.’  

The statement challenges the church to “align our choices and lifestyles with our Wesleyan ethic of ‘Do Good, Do No Harm, and Stay in Love with God.’ It further cites the apostle Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”? (Ephesians 4:1b-3)   
 
Finally, it ends with questions of responsibility and a call to action from Bishop Peggy Johnson, followed by some resources to stimulate study, discussion and action.

“So, what is the faithful, active response for our church and for each individual member? How might we follow the example of Jesus, who liberates and calls forth justice? In the words of Bishop Peggy Johnson, "Now more than ever, the people of God need to speak out about racism and injustice when and where we see it. One voice can make a real difference. Let your voice be heard!"

CORR is an interracial conference commission that creates and promotes dialogue and education, disseminates resources and supports our witness and progress toward racial justice and inclusiveness. The Revs. Susan L. Worrell and Alicia Julia-Stanley are co-chairpersons.


Bishops respond to killing of Ahmaud Arbery
The UMC’s Council of Bishops also issued a statement on Wednesday: UMC Bishops call for justice in wake of Ahmaud Arbery’s death . It too cites the two general agencies’ joint letter and calls for “justice and the eradication of racism and white supremacy” in the aftermath of Arbery’s killing. New Council of Bishops President Cynthia Fierro Harvey signed the statement.
“Racism is real and it must no longer exist in our communities. The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparities in our system that have been fed by racism in cities across America,” the statement reads.  

Noting that the list of innocent Black lives who have been killed grows each day, the bishops said it was time for “The United Methodist Church to take a stand and to join our prayers and our actions and denounce our complicity. It is time for us to reclaim The United Methodist Social Principles that name racism as sin and states that it is antithetical to the gospel itself.” 

Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of The United Methodist Church
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