With the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, it is not possible to remain silent. This moment presents itself as an opportunity, for some to wake up and for others who have been awake to go more deeply, to consider and confront the systems of racism that we have created, perpetuated, and from which many have benefitted.
We stand with black Americans and especially with young people in your anger. Systemic racism is not right and should not continue. As people of faith, we believe that racism is a sin, not just a sociological issue, so there is personal and corporate repentance to be accomplished. Racism denies the humanity of another, privileges one class or group of individuals over another on the basis of skin color or ethnicity. It has played out over 400 years in our country, and so its perversions will not change overnight, but we believe it will change if we work together, beginning today.
The ancient scripture is our foundational resource, which studied in community is speaking now: every human being is created in the image of God, deserving mutual respect and compassion. Loving the neighbor and the stranger, seeking the wellbeing of those who have been cast out, privileging the common good over selfish aims define our faith in God.
We feel the gospel calls us to action—to coalesce our power and gifts on the side of the marginalized, to discover mutual self-interest with people of color and others who have been cast down, to work to raise each other up.
At this moment in the city of Baltimore, we feel particularly called to focus on public safety and reforming the criminal justice system; on public education and providing necessary funds for both students and schools to thrive; on job training and work readiness with a commitment to a living wage; on safe, affordable housing for all.
Systemic change will only come through creating and strengthening relationships with each other and across superficial divides of race, class, gender, and sexuality. When we know each other, someone else’s pain is not theoretical. When some suffer, all suffer; when one person bleeds, everyone bleeds. Societal structures will only change as individuals consistently ask one another: How are you? What hurts? Can I help you? Can you help me?
We believe the church is particularly called to engender these kinds of transformative relationships through action: the courage of personal and mutual accountability, the creation of multi-racial faith communities, and working across faiths to restore our city.
We are people of prayer, but what do you do after you pray? We build the beloved community by dismantling systems that privilege white people over others. Black lives matter.
David, Cristina, Freda Marie, Caroline