One might ask, What does following Jesus have to do with confronting the sin of racism?
In a word? Everything.
Our baptismal vow as disciples of Jesus Christ call us to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world and repent of our sin, and, at the same time, acknowledge and accept the freedom God gives us to do so.
Rejecting sin – be it systemic or personal – is at the center of us proclaiming Jesus as Lord, putting our whole trust in God’s grace, serving God, and walking in step with the Spirit’s action for all people. Confessing sin and accepting Jesus are everyday actions calling us to work with God in the sanctifying grace God is doing in us, in our neighbor, and in the world.
Working with God will put us at the center of the evils of this world calling us to proclaim, in word and deed, our continual allegiance to Jesus Christ – the one who died and rose for all people. Our allegiance of Jesus also calls us to confront, in word and deed, powers, people, systems, and ways of being that deny, dismiss and devalue the image of God at work in others.
We build on our past progress deepening our ministry across the conference to create a more just, inclusive, equitable church.
A Journey of Hope plan seeks to achieve this through the following actions:
- Equity in how we apportion our resources
- Acknowledge, repent of and address past harm by word and deed
- Build on our 10-year intercultural competency plan to deepen understanding of racism and how to dismantle it.
- Strongly encourage and support every congregation to develop a Journey of Hope plan to begin dismantling racism in their respective ministry contexts.
- Partnering with the consultant Fearless Dialogues for two years to become trained at every level in engaging anti-racism work in ministry
Some of the tasks associated with Journey of Hope are already underway:
- Apportioning shared ministries and billables to congregations in low-income communities
- Permanently forbearing collecting on billable debt
- Examining ways to strengthen ethnic congregations
- Annual review of all reports and legislation ahead of annual conference for implicit bias review
Being a diverse, just, and inclusive Church is not new. It has been God’s vision since the creation of the world. God goes with us always in carrying out this divine vision “to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).