P.O. Box 199 1922 N. IL Rte. 2 Oregon, Illinois 61061-0199
Phone: 815-732-6111   Fax: 815-732-7325
June 1, 2020

Dear beloved followers of Jesus Christ of the Blackhawk Presbytery,

Today we turn the liturgical calendar to what we call in the Christian Church “ordinary time.” Yet these times are anything but ordinary. Our world continues to suffer under the grip of a pandemic, and now, across our country, a thunder of voices are crying out in righteous anger over the needless death of another black, beloved child of God. We join our voices with them, and as we ask God’s mercy on the victims of yet another death of an unarmed person of color, we also seek the ways we can be beacons of the light of God’s love and justice.

We must not let George Floyd’s death become a political argument. This is not politics, it is the Gospel.

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’  Luke 4:18-19

Jesus was sent to release the captives and the oppressed. The flames of Pentecost we celebrated yesterday remind us that Jesus empowered us to continue this mission. In other words, we the Church are uniquely equipped by the powers of the Holy Spirit to bring release to the oppressed. After this past week, we cannot claim to not have heard their cries. We cannot ignore the pleas of those who have been held captive by the racism that permeates our systems of justice in this country. We cannot claim we live in the land of liberty and justice for all, when both are out of the reach of some of us. Jesus came to give sight to the blind. Let us not be blind to the glare of crushing needs around us now.

The Great Ends of the Church should give us guidance as we force ourselves to turn our eyes to the pain and inequities around us. We are uniquely called in such a time as this to proclaim the truth of the dignity and worth of every human being, created in God’s image and loved by their Creator. We are to promote social righteousness, calling out injustice when we see it and to work to right the wrongs in a show of courageous love. We are to exhibit to the world the Kingdom of Heaven to the world, a world of justice, mercy and self-giving love.

We in the Blackhawk Presbytery are also uniquely equipped and called to this work. Our congregations are predominately white and therefore have voice and resources to work for racial justice. Our population, which could easily reflect the divides in this country, could instead be a powerful force of united front for justice and peace. There is no better time to educate ourselves on the deep and serious issues underneath the injustice and anger, so our actions would be informed by understanding. We encourage you to study, to pray, and to act as you are called. The Blackhawk Shares Facebook page can serve as a way to share the resources and efforts that are having an impact in your congregation.

Let us not become numb. Let us not be those Martin Luther King, Jr. referenced in his letter from the Birmingham jail when he admonished churches who stand "on the sidelines and merely mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities" in the face of clear injustices of the day. Instead, m ay the fires of Pentecost light in us voice to speak the truths of God’s justice and love, and courage and wisdom to boldly act to further Christ’s mission in the world in these extraordinary times. We are with you.

In Christ’s Service,

Rev. Nancy Dolan
Executive Bridge Presbyter

Rev. Eric Heinekamp
Interim Stated Clerk