We commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
This is one of the four UMCNext commitments we believe are essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement and for each of us in following Jesus Christ and making disciples to transform the world.
In the last week, especially in the United States and increasingly around the world, the urgency of this commitment has been laid bare. Just more than a week ago the life of George Floyd was horrifically ended at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The gut-wrenching nine-minute video showing the knee of a police officer on the neck of our brother as he said, “I can’t breathe” evoked thoughts of others who have been killed by unjust and oppressive systems: Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Botham Jean. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland…Emmett Till. And these are just a few of the most well-known. We know there are countless others whose fates weren’t captured by pictures and video, their names known only to their loved ones and to God.
The trauma and grief created by this violent act are compounded. It comes in the midst of a pandemic that has disproportionately affected the same black and brown-skinned communities with higher infection rates, deaths, and economic fallout.
It is not lost on us that Minneapolis is the epicenter of what’s driving this moment, this outcry, this opportunity. We would have just finished the 2020 General Conference, had it been held in May as originally scheduled. We would have chosen a path forward for the church, one that affirms full participation of all people, including many who have been historically excluded.
UMCNext is committed to the eradication of racism and the structures in our church that perpetuate its existence. This work will be hard. It will often be solitary. It will require historically privileged voices—largely white voices—to make room for and to champion long-dominated and suppressed voices. It will require a depth and reserve of faith that will at times be exhausted. Foundational to this call, however, is scripture that calls us to just such a time as this: “to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 CEB). We must. And with God’s help, we will.
We commend to you the excellent statement about Mr. Floyd’s death by Erin Hawkins, General Secretary of the General Commission on Religion and Race.
We invite you to do this work with us. We covet your invitation to do the same.
Ginger Gaines-Cirelli and Junius Dotson