Walking in the Waters of our Baptism

by | Jun 16, 2020 | West District Newsletter, West District Notes, West District Web Page

Last Saturday clergy and laity gathered from around the conference to meet all day in our first online Annual Conference. We took time to take care of the business of the Annual Conference. There was also time to worship and reflect. We reflected on the events happening right now in our world through the eyes of our faith. Racism diminishes the life of a person created in the image of God and dishonors the diversity that God intentionally designed in the created order. In Christ, we are one family. As Paul said in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The Appointive Cabinet shared an important statement on racism that.  we want to share with all of you. Please take some time to read that statement below. I hope you will join with us and with others in our conference as we consider the calling of our baptismal vows and the sin of systemic racism.

The Commitment of the Appointive Cabinet to End Racism

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and the hate crime causing George Floyd’s horrific death have brought our nation and our church to a tipping place. The Appointive Cabinet denounces the sin of systemic racism and commits to taking action to end a culture of white privilege in our society and in our church.

As people washed in the waters of baptism, the Appointive Cabinet of the Desert Southwest Conference confess that we have been complicit by a lack of attention addressing racism in more effective ways. We believe that true repentance is evidenced in accountable and visible transformation. As such, the Appointive Cabinet seeks forgiveness, and commit to action which calls us to walk more fully in the waters of the baptism we claim.

Our Commitment to the people of the Desert Southwest Conference:

1.  We will awaken to ways we have not fully lived our baptismal vows through a process of listening, learning and prayerful reflection. Following the guidance from the Conference Commission on Religion and Race and the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee the appointive cabinet will:

a.  Participate in the Implicit Bias course offered through GCORR.
b.  Complete the Intercultural Development Inventory assessment.
c.  Engage in Intentional Listening Sessions with our pastors of color and our white pastors.
d.  Engage in the book study of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo.
e.  Engage in the book study of How to Be an Anti-racist by Ibram X. Kendi.
f.  Commit to meet with the Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CCORR) and the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee (ELCC) to listen, learn and discuss ways to enhance the work we are called to do.

2.  We will actively walk in the waters of our baptism through the following commitments:

a.  We affirm and support the development of a conference initiative to end racism led by a coalition of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee and the Conference Board of Church and Society. We commit to participating in the work of this coalition and the initiative for transformation it presents.
b.  We commit to implementing the process presented in the Learning from Strangers and Meeting God at the Boundaries curriculum as we give better attention to cross racial/cross cultural appointments.
c.  We commit to developing more effective ways to enable persons of color to move into places of leadership as pastors in our churches.
d.  We commit to partnering with the Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CCORR) and the Ethnic Local Church Concerns Committee (ELCC), following their lead in a three-year process to impact the culture in the Desert Southwest Conference.
e.  We commit to having discussion with CCORR, ELCC and the extended cabinet to discern other ways we may all be instruments of justice and transformation.
f.  We commit to participating in the Conference campaign – calling us to flood social media with a common message denouncing the sin of systemic racism, to be held on June 17, 2020 at noon.

The Appointive Cabinet is aware of our need always to listen deeply to diverse voices, moving toward a new day as the people of God. The steps presented are only first steps in, what we commit to you, will be a more fully developed plan to enabling all of us to walk together in the waters of our baptism – accepting the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.

We ask for your prayers and your partnership.

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Author: Nancy Cushman

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