Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I and United Methodists around the world grieve deeply about the impact of the earthquake in Nepal and the unrest in Baltimore. I call all of our congregations this weekend to pray for the people of Baltimore and Nepal. James 5:13-16 is a powerful scripture on prayer. It includes these lines: If any among us are suffering, pray… The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. The people of Nepal and Baltimore need the powerful and effective prayers of United Methodists.
In Nepal, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake has killed thousands and destroyed homes, buildings and communities. In Baltimore, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American male died while in police custody.
The earthquake in Nepal has shattered lives. We as United Methodists have already begun to mobilize relief and recovery efforts by raising money and supporting churches and local organizations in Nepal. The United Methodist Church began its work in Nepal 60 years ago when we partnered to open a clinic. Today we have five missionaries in Nepal and they and their families are all safe. Our recovery work for the people of Nepal will span many years and I invite you to be generous with your prayers and giving.
A string of deaths of African-American men by police officers has set many communities on edge. For eight years I was the bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference and I know the people and communities of Baltimore. It is a dynamic city with outstanding leaders and people. The violent protest in Baltimore is a struggle of larger issues of racism and poverty. There is fear that the system does not treat people equally. I call on United Methodists to pray for the family of Freddie Gray, the leaders and residents of Baltimore and for each of us to work toward healing the wounds of racism and poverty.
The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Let us pray for the people of Nepal and Baltimore. Let us work in our own communities to address the injustices of poverty and racism and to be good stewards of God’s creation.
Keep the faith!
John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Greater New Jersey