Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce R. Ough has challenged United Methodists and all peoples of faith to be bold in the witness against racism and white supremacy, which he described as repugnant and against the Christian faith.
In a statement to the more than 12 million members of The United Methodist Church, Bishop Ough expressed dismay and grief over the clashes between white supremacy advocates and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I am shocked by the blatant resurgence of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and racially motivated domestic terrorism in the United States. I am dismayed (and frightened) by the animosity, division, extremism and evil that is spiraling out of control in the U.S.”
He asked the UMC to join in the grieving for the lives lost, and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, the families of the two state troopers killed while monitoring the Charlottesville demonstration from the air, and for the healing of all the injured.
Bishop Ough noted that there should be no excuses or political justification for the evil that was on full display in Charlottesville last Saturday. “Nor, let us forget that many such displays of white supremacy, racism and hatred go un-reported or under-reported in many places. White supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies are abhorrent and entirely inconsistent with the Christian faith.”
Pointing out that the United Methodists share collective responsibility to break their silence, the leader of the bishops called on all people of faith to use the shock, dismay and grief of Charlottesville to stand up against extremism, hatred and racism. “We share collective responsibility, as followers of the Prince of Peace, to create non-violent communities where people with different political and religious views respect each other. We share responsibility to articulate the vision of the Beloved Community where no person feels endangered on account of their social, racial or cultural identity.”
He called on all people to examine their own hearts for the prejudice that contributes to attitudes of supremacy or hatred, or to violence, or silence or fear.
“This is the moment for The United Methodist Church and all peoples of faith to be bold in our witness against racism and white supremacy. The vision of the Beloved Community lies not behind us, but before us. I urge us to pray for the Holy Spirit to break through and work through The United Methodist Church to heal our broken world and make tangible, visible the kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”
Quoting scripture, Bishop Ough noted that “Jesus called his followers to ‘love your neighbor.’ It is clear this key spiritual imperative means all neighbors without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. And, Paul taught that “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions and factions” are among many works of the flesh that are antithetical to the kingdom of God. “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:19-23) These works of the Spirit lead to peace-making and the kingdom of God.”
More than 20 other UMC bishops have issued statements on the Charlottesville events. Here are links to some of the statements.
1. Bishop Sharma Lewis of Virginia Area:
2. Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of Washington Area:
3. Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball of West Virginia Area:
4. Bishop Thomas Bickerton of New York Area:
5. Bishop Grant Hagiya of Los Angeles Area:
6. Bishop Michael McKee of Dallas Area:
7. Bishop Peggy Johnson of Philadelphia Area:
8. Bishop Gary Mueller of Arkansas Area:
9. Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi of Pittsburgh Area:
10. Bishop Bill McAlilly of Nashville Area:
11. Bishop Gregory Palmer of West Ohio Area:
12. Bishop Jimmy Nunn of Oklahoma Area:
13. Bishop John Schol of New Jersey Area:
14. Bishop Julius C. Trimble of Indiana Area:
15. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of Birmingham Area:
16. Bishop Mary Virginia (Dindy) Taylor of Holston Area:
17. Bishop David Alan Bard of Michigan Area:
18. Bishop Mark J. Webb of Upper New York Area:
19. Bishop Leonard Fairley of Louisville Area:
20. Bishop Laurie Haller of Iowa Area:
21. Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of Louisiana Area:
22. Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of Columbia Area:
23. Bishop Scott Jones of Houston Area: