On Our National Troubles Surrounding Race and Justice
A Statement of the Evangelical Fellowship of the Virginia Annual Conference
We join with the many voices in our country and in the church condemning the homicide of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
We acknowledge this incident has brought to mind the painful history of racial injustice. We condemn every form of inhumane treatment of our fellow human beings made in the image of God by those entrusted with power and authority.
We support peaceful protests that are a visible sign we need to renew our continuing national conversation about race, justice, inner city male youth and families at risk, and police accountability. We urge caution as we await the full evidence of the incident to be revealed.
At the same time, we decry the criminal acts of looting, defacing national monuments, burning churches, and violent mayhem; these have too often hijacked justified, peaceful acts of protest, and have only multiplied suffering, destruction and death in many vulnerable communities. We are distressed by the many injuries to law officers and mourn the deaths of federal agent Dave Underwood in Oakland, retired St. Louis Police Captain David Dorn, and others. In a moment when Americans need the clarity of shared purpose, it is reprehensible that some have taken advantage of an egregious act only to further narrow self-interest or a nihilistic ideological agenda.
We join with others renouncing racism; we call out organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa who are exploiting the moment with revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist philosophy, terminology, and tactics to further an agenda (e.g. ‘no police’ and deconstruction of the nuclear family) which would have devastating effects on local minority communities as well as our greater country. At every level, abuse of power happens and we denounce it; we support our local police who put themselves in harm’s way to uphold our system of law and order. We approve of continual review and reform in conversation with local communities to build trust and insure non-discriminatory and appropriate use of force.
In this moment of turmoil and lament, we seek first the sure light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to guide our witness. We remember that our Wesleyan ancestors were devoted both to the spread of scriptural holiness and to the reform of the nation. We commit ourselves personally to self-examination and to pray for all concerned parties; we pledge ourselves to work to root out the vestiges of racial and class prejudice, and to engage with others in difficult but needed conversations about the way of equal justice for all.
Our time of unrest is spawning outbursts of the radical re-visioning of life. Human plans for social and political revolution are insufficient to transcend the fallen human condition in which we are all sinners. Only Jesus Christ’s atonement and forgiveness of sin and faith in him through the Holy Spirit transforms the heart; Jesus breaks down the walls of hostility between groups, parties, genders, and peoples. We who testify were once alienated from God and one another; Jesus Christ’s blood has reconciled us with all believers, regardless of racial or ethnic background, national origin, and gender. Jesus is our justice which is our peace. Recognizing Jesus alone reconciles us to God, we recommit ourselves to offering the ministry of reconciliation and peace for a sinful and divided humanity (2 Cor. 5:16-21). Lord, help us live into it!
We reaffirm the truth that, through the reconciling grace of God, “steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other...The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase”(Psalm 85:10, 12).
Signed: The Executive Committee of the Evangelical Fellowship of Virginia
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Recently, the following article appeared in our local newspaper https://www.chathamstartribune.com/news/article_6e85f89e-e583-11eb-8c2f-67b4c967f4b8.html Here is my response - In the July 14 edition,