In response to the shootings in Georgia
March 18, 2021, 12:00 PM
Just as we are beginning to hear some encouraging news about the COVID pandemic, we have received word out of Georgia that the much more persistent and ingrained pandemic of racism has claimed more victims. The deadly combination of generalized fear, a broken mental health system, easy access to firearms, and assumptions of male privilege and racism that are deeply ingrained in our national identity has led to yet another in a seemingly unending string of incidences of domestic terrorism.
 
I hope and pray we have not become so numbed by the frequency of such violence that we turn away from this news with a shrug and sigh. As Christ-followers, certainly our prayers are with the many victims of this latest outburst of fear and shame turned into violence against others, but that is not nearly enough. We must also cooperate with our prayers by examining our own attitudes to acknowledge where our own racial divisions and fear of "others" is doing harm. In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's gospel, Jesus says, "You have heard it said ... 'You shall not murder ... But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment ...," strongly acknowledging that the damage from anger and fear begins way before we find ourselves with a weapon in our hands. We MUST face this ongoing national sin and our role in it and do all we can to insist that we take mental health seriously, expose the fallacy of white male superiority and privilege, and put an end to fear-based politics. Standing with the oppressed and marginalized, which in America in 2021 still includes all people of color, women of all backgrounds, and persons who self-identify as LGBTQ persons, is at the core of our belief system.
 
In our best moments and versions, the people of the United Methodist Church stand solidly against violence in all forms, recognize all people as beloved members of God's family, and actively pursue changes in social systems - political, economic, educational, housing, health care (including mental health and holistic care), and employment. May God strengthen our resolve and commitment to do the necessary work, starting with self-reflection and pursuit of our very best versions!   Pastor Terry