To all brothers and sisters of Jesus, those who follow Christ, those who love Christ!
We, Bishop Tracy S. Malone and members of the East Ohio Conference Cabinet, write to you out of joy and concern. We celebrate those of you who are living into your faith and reaching out into your communities in hope and love, but we are also concerned by what we are seeing and hearing from some of you within our congregations and faith communities across the Conference.
There is no question that these are anxious and difficult days. We are living and struggling with a worldwide pandemic, postponement of General and Jurisdictional Conferences, protests, and polarization of our society. Add to this the presidential election and constant misinformation cast upon the nation and we find ourselves forgetting who we are and how we should conduct ourselves.
Amidst all the uncertainty, we ask you to remember the extraordinary Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are children of God and disciples of his Son the Risen Jesus Christ. You know the message we have heard from the beginning, that we should “love one another” (1John 3:11). We are deeply and profoundly loved by God. In this great love we are empowered to love one another. In fact, we can do no other! Love is central and primary to all we do and all we are.
Some of our congregations are in conflict over social distancing, masks, and how we worship. Harsh words, demanding our own way, attacking the pastor, and refusing to participate are not the way of love. We ask you to consider the life and teachings of Jesus, the love of God, and the mission of the Church as you work out together the safe practices of worship. Speak and act toward others as you want Christ to speak and act towards you. Wearing a mask is choosing to love your neighbor. Social distancing is embracing life for all.
As our society struggles with racial hatred, violence, and protests, we ask you to remember your identity in Christ. Please do the work of learning, listening, and inviting God to lead you in thought, word, and deed. It does the Christian, and the world, no good to participate in the echo chambers of hate and ignorance that is found on much of social media, and then mindlessly repeated in everyday life. Please consider how Christ would have you respond to racism. Those loved by God are empowered by God to love others.
In these weeks leading up to the presidential election, we are seeing fear, lying, misuse of scripture, gossip, character assassination and political parties attempting to claim they alone are endorsed by God. Campaign leaders will attempt to turn Jesus into a Republican or Democrat to fit their agenda. Candidates will be positioned to be the new messiah destined to save America. All of this is nonsense that only increases the social unrest of our nation. We ask you to remember Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior. Good, loving, faithful followers of Jesus can be found in the political parties of this nation. Please do not give in to hate and fear. Choose to love. Choose to pray. Choose to think, speak, and act as the Risen Christ expects disciples to act.
The clergy and churches of our East Ohio Conference are connected by our shared mission and our vision to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This requires each of us to be a disciple of Jesus Christ ourselves and to strive to love others as Jesus loves us.
Let it be so. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Tracy S. Malone and the EOC Cabinet
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW
North Canton, OH 44720
Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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