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From Bishop Park, on the anniversary of Charlottesville racist protests

. 3 min read

“And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God”
(Micah
6:8)
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,
Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior,
Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!
It was a year ago on August 11-12 that the eyes of the world
turned toward Charlottesville, VA. It was on those two days that our country
and the world witnessed the sinfulness of hatred and violence of racism. Racism
that was, and still is prevalent.
How will we as Christians on the anniversary of Charlottesville
proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I would invite you and your congregation
to engage in worship, prayer, reflection and action that would give God glory
and witness to our commitment to the Kingdom so that all may see there is no
room in human family for racism, bigotry and hatred.
As we prepare to remember the anniversary of Charlottesville, I
invite you and your congregation to consider doing one or more of the things
that would address the sin of hatred, combat racism, and lift up the vision of
the Beloved Community of Christ such as:

 

During worship, you may want to read aloud the powerful words of
Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. His speech was
given August 28, 1963, almost 55 years ago. Sadly, the blatant display of
hatred and racism of Charlottesville has been repeated again and again in so
many places for so long. But we, as God’s people should never stop dreaming Dr.
King’s dream. You may want to invite your congregation to spend significant
prayer time at the altar praying for forgiveness for the times in our lives
when we have judged people by their beliefs, the color of their skin, their
country of origin or anything that we would view as different from ourselves.
As part of the prayer time you may invite persons to pray for healing and peace
with justice of our community, nation, and the world. You may want to use the
time with children to talk about God’s love through Christ that commands and
compels us to treat all persons with kindness and love
and respect.
Your small groups may want to study the sermons of Dr. Martin
Luther King. Or read and study Holding Up Your Corner, Talking about Race in
Your Community
by F. Willis Johnson. Your pastor
should have a copy of this resource. You may want to utilize the resources of
the General Commission on Religion and Race at www.gcorr.org.
As a congregation, you may want to make a commitment during the
fall to have at least one ongoing study/small group to build an understanding
of the systemic nature of racism and how to dismantle racism. You may want to
invite persons of differing faiths and ethnic backgrounds to times of dialogue,
discussion, and fellowship to begin to build bridges from your church to your
diverse community.
The Baltimore Washington Annual Conference is inviting United
Methodists of the Northeastern Jurisdiction to participate in United in Love:
Rally for Love, Peace and Justice. The invitation from Bishop LaTrelle
Easterling includes these words, “We invite all individuals, faith
communities and organizations across lines of difference to gather as we uplift
the human spirit, renounce all forms of hate and show that we are
#unitedtolove. The rally will be Sunday, August 12, 2018 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
at the National Mall – 4th Street NW DC. For more information go to  www.unitedtolove.org.
Maybe a Sunday School class, your youth group, the UMM or UMW
would like to go as a group to this rally.
Last year after the Charlottesville tragedy, I wrote to you. In
that letter I concluded with a quote from the hymn, “For the Healing of
the Nations”. It comes from the UM Hymnal, page 428. I would like to
conclude this pastoral letter the same way.
All that kills abundant living, let it from the earth be
banned;
pride of status, race, or schooling, dogmas that obscure
your plan.
In our common quest for justice may we hallow life’s brief
span,
may we hollow life’s brief span.
You, Creator God, have written your great name on human
kind;
for our growing in your likeness bring the life of Christ
to mind,

that,
by our response and service earth its destiny may find,
earth its destiny may find.
Let it be so. Amen and Amen!
With You In Christ’s Ministry,
Jeremiah J. Park