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Reconciliation and Race

. 3 min read

This letter, below, from our Bishop, details some systemic efforts in our region to address the racial divide in our nation and also responds to the recent anti-Semitic and white supremacist protests and violence in Charlottesville:

Our Conference Vision:
“Alive in Christ together,
the Susquehanna Conference will embody the beloved community of disciple making
congregations.”
August
2017
Dear
Colleagues in Ministry,
Grace
to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of Our Brokenness
and Hope of the World!
The
Order of Elders of the Susquehanna Conference, in conjunction with the Order of
Deacons, the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members, and the
Cabinet, is sponsoring the 2017 Bishop’s Day Apart for our full-time and
part-time clergy and pastoral leaders which will be offered on two different
dates in two different locations. You can attend the 2017 Bishop’s Day Apart on
September 11th at Lightstreet United Methodist Church or on September 12th at
Mt. Nittany United Methodist Church. I am very excited and pleased that the
Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson, Senior Minister of Wellspring Church, an
intergenerational United Methodist church plant in Ferguson, Missouri, and
Vosburgh Visiting Professor of Ministry and Social Engagement at the Theological
School of Drew University, will be our guest speaker.
The
Conference Leadership and I are committed to be a more inclusive and diverse
annual conference. In that regard, the Susquehanna Conference has engaged the
resources of the General Commission on Religion and Race. Already our
conference leadership and staff are participating in workshops and events to
address the opportunities, challenges and concerns that can come from
broadening our understanding of racial and ethnic diversity. We are in the process
of developing an overall conference strategy as part of our response to the
Northeastern Jurisdiction’s Call to Action for each conference to have a
systematic plan to address racism. These efforts are just some of the practical
and tangible ways to live out the vision of our conference as disciple-making
congregations that embody the beloved community.

 

As
people of faith, the agenda of racial relations is extremely important and we
must address racism related issues and concerns in regards to our own attitudes
as well as institutional/societal racism. This year’s Bishop’s Day Apart is
focused on this unfinished agenda. Together with the laity of our conference,
we are to be intentional learners as to how we can build up the beloved
community that Jesus had in mind where racial justice and reconciliation is
fulfilled. Violence, hatred and bigotry have no place within the kingdom of
God. In light of the most recent clash at Charlottesville, VA, our pursuit of
and witness to the biblical vision of the beloved community is to be
intensified.
As
you read earlier, the meeting on Monday, September 11th, 2017, will be held at
Lightstreet United Methodist Church at 1640 Main Street, Bloomsburg (located in
the village of Lightstreet) and then on Tuesday, September 12th, the meeting
will be held at Mt. Nittany United Methodist Church at 1500 East Branch Road,
State College. This continuing education event will begin at 9:30 AM; and it is
anticipated that the event will conclude by 3:30 PM. The cost is $30 for clergy
and $20 for students/retired clergy. This price includes your lunch and a copy
of Dr. Johnson’s book, “Holding
Up Your Corner: Talking about Race in Your Community”.
All
full-time clergy are required to attend. (Any request to be excused needs to be
directed to the Order of Elders in care of the chair, the Rev. Jean Blackie).
Recognizing that some clergy and CLM’s are bi-vocational, all other clergy and
CLM’s are invited and encouraged to attend this educational opportunity. Please
go to www.susumc.org/index.php/2017-bishop-s-day-apart to register, if
you haven’t already.
As
clergy members of the conference, we share a mutual covenant of respect,
integrity, accountability, and commitment to one another. I strongly encourage
every pastor to avail themselves to the event and expect you to join your
sisters and brothers in this year’s gathering for the Bishop’s Day Apart. I
look forward to greeting you at one of these meetings.
With You in Christ’s Ministry,

Jeremiah
J. Park