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Bishop Park on recent violence

. 2 min read
July 8, 2016
“If you, even you,
had only known on this day what
would bring you
peace…” (Luke 19:42a)
“Accept one another,
then, just as Christ accepted you,
in order to bring praise
to God.” (Romans 15:7)
Dear
Peacemakers of the Susquehanna Conference,
Grace
to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness,
and Hope of the World!
Our
hearts and prayers go to the families and the loved ones of the victims of
injustice and violence in our nation. Our prayers also go to the communities
and people directly affected. We are to remember that violence towards one is
violence to all and an injustice to one is an injustice to the rest of us.
Recent
events have once again shown us the deeply painful reality that faces our
country. Just yesterday several police officers, who were trying to assure that
a protest rally would be safe, were killed by snipers. The act of violence was
despicable and must not be condoned. The rally was proceeded by a number of
other incidents nationwide, particularly the most recent incidents in Louisiana
and Minnesota where African-American civilians were shot and killed by police
officers under questionable circumstances. There have been cries from the
affected communities that there are too many incidents in which police officers
use deadly force unjustifiably. The act of power abuse by authority is horrible
and must not be tolerated.

These
tragic occurrences remind us of the division, amplified by racism, that is deep
and of the fear that is prevalent within us and in our communities. They tear
the fabric of our country at its core. We know that the perpetrators of power
abuse and violence are few and never represent their communities. The
overwhelming majority of them are law abiding, peaceful, compassionate, and
honorable people who are doing their part in building up the vision of a
community of peace and justice. However, we must continue to learn and demonstrate,
with more commitment and dedication than ever, the way to respect and honor the
rights, the worth, and the integrity of every individual, regardless of race,
color, national origin, political views, or religious faith.
I
am reminded of the words of a hymn composed by the Rev. William W. Reid, Jr.
Rev. Reid was a district superintendent, prisoner of war in World War II, and
served in the former Wyoming Conference. In his hymn, O God of Every Nation,
Rev. Reid writes:

O God of every nation, of every race and land,redeem your whole creation with your almighty hand; Where hate and fear divide us, and
bitter 
threats are hurled, In love and mercy guide us,and heal our strife-torn world (nation).

May
his words be our prayer as the United Methodists of the Susquehanna Conference.
I
know that you will join me in praying this Sunday and for days to come. Let us
join in fervent prayer for God’s mercy to transform our strife-torn nation. We
shall pray that our churches will reach out into our communities with a
willingness to confront those issues that have led to so much of our hatreds,
fears, and hurts and build bridges of healing and hope, justice and peace, and
reconciliation and harmony. Please pray for the people of our nation, in every
town and hamlet, in large cities and metropolitan areas, and in our very rural
homes that every person is accepted as a child of God, is honored as a person
of sacred worth who is created in God’s own image, and thus is respected as an
equal citizen of this great nation of human rights, freedom, and opportunity.
Jesus
reminds us, “Blessed are those who make peace.” We pray that, by
God’s grace, we will be empowered and move from not only yearning for peace to
a real commitment to work for the beloved community of peace with justice.
In
Christ,

Jeremiah
J. Park