“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" - Amos 5:24 (NIV)
The humanity of this generation was on trial in a Minneapolis, MN courtroom for the past few weeks. The Tuesday, April 20 announcement of a guilty verdict against former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd brought an overwhelming feeling of justice and hope to people across the nation and around the world. This historic verdict is not only a victory for the family of George Floyd it is also a symbolic victory and long-awaited justice for other families of persons who have been unjustifiably killed by police, more specifically and disproportionately, Black and Brown people.
What we witnessed on May 25, 2020 - the brutal killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer - traumatized people of every race, age, and nation. What we experienced that day was not only a lack of respect for the life of George Floyd it was also a total disregard of his humanity, and all humanity. The actions of Derek Chauvin that day brought to light, in a real and poignant way, the ongoing systemic racism and violence perpetrated against people of color and an increased awareness of the prevalence of white supremacy in our society.
Systemic racism is a complex issue and destructive force that permeates the Church, our communities, and our society. The United Methodist Church stands against racism and has resolutions and Social Principles that call us to stop the criminalization of communities of color in the United States and speak to the deplorable acts of hate and violence against groups or persons. To be an anti-racist and to live into our covenant to be an anti-racist annual conference is an ongoing journey. It requires a continuing commitment to do the work of dismantling racism - and, as the Body of Christ, it is all of our work to do.
We engage this discipleship work by continuing to learn and understand about matters of race, culture, and the oppression of marginalized people; listening with compassion and having conversations with people of color to learn their personal stories; and honest self-reflection to gain greater understanding of our own biases and how we intentionally and/or unintentionally commit acts of racism.
We can recognize injustice and we know when something is not right. As followers of Jesus Christ, when we witness violence, harm, and unjust behavior, and when we see the data and the facts on matters of inequality, it should disturb us, and we should be urged to act - to advocate and work for change. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that, “… the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But it does not bend on its own.
This week’s verdict is a turning point in history, a step forward in the right direction - but the work of dismantling racism is an ongoing movement. We do this work together by praying together, standing together, uniting and using our voices together, and by being bold and courageous in exercising the power of Jesus Christ that is already at work in us (Philippians 4:13).
We are each called to be light and to shine the light of Christ in the world. We are called to be agents of reconciliation, healing, and hope in the midst of the brokenness and injustice in the world.
Friends, now is not the time to become complacent. There is still much work to be done. Stay encouraged. Remain steadfast. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9 NIV)
Executive Secretary to the Bishop
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH,
near Akron-Canton Airport.
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North Canton, OH 44720
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