May 29, 2020

AN URGENT CALL TO ACTION FOR PEOPLE OF FAITH

Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,

The violence against George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the resultant loss of life, and the sluggish actions to address these incidents of racism and injustice, especially against members of the Black community are urgent calls to action. Violence is erupting because of the frustration and anger we feel when there is continuing occurrence of brutality and death. We grieve that justice is elusive. Attempts at peaceful protests have been ignored and attempts to implement non-violent, lasting change have been futile. But this is not a call to action for violent protest or retribution.

Word is circulating that protests are being planned for communities in our Desert Southwest Conference. You may feel the deep anger and frustration welling in your souls as you see the brutality of death on the street. Although you and I are outraged at the racism and callous use of force shown graphically in the videos, we must not let our anger and frustration beget more violence, destruction, or death. Let us turn our energy and attention to actions that I believe will contribute to a lasting change in our communities. Here is what I am encouraging our United Methodists to do:

  • I URGE YOU TO PLEASE STAY HOME and do not participate in protest gatherings that may erupt in violence. Let us not participate in the perpetuation of a cycle of violence that may create more harm, injury or death, and the needless destruction of property.
  • Call on your legislative leaders to share your anger and frustration. Ask our leaders to work even more fervently to create a more just system of affirmation of our United Methodist stance: “We recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons.”
  • With the news that there has been an arrest of the perpetrator of the violence against George Floyd, encourage our leaders to promote justice for the victim and his family.
  • Join me in prayer for peace. Not the “do nothing and hope it goes away” peace; and not just “let those who have died rest in peace.” Instead, let us pray that we will confront our own prejudices and words and actions that may intentionally or unintentionally contribute to racism and pray that we will be a part of the solution for this sin that continues to plague us.
  • Live daily into our Desert Southwest Conference vision that proclaims that we are a courageous church, acting for justice.

As you receive this letter from me, will you pause to offer this prayer, and will you pray this in some shape or form every day:

God, our Creator, in these times of incredible anxiety and challenge, we offer a prayer that is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a prayer about another pandemic that has been a scourge on our human family for centuries. We pray for the end of the cycle of violence and racism that persists and now threatens to envelope us in the evil of hatred and the sin of violence against other humans.

Forgive us when we have allowed ourselves to be teased into believing that this sin is no longer. Help us to realize that we have not yet achieved what you have proclaimed, that all persons are created by you and loved by you. Give us the courage to speak and act for justice for all. We pray especially for our sisters and brothers of color and in the memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others. Amen.

Praying and acting for justice,
Bishop Bob

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