Friends in Christ,
When my brother died at the age of 40, I will never forget my mother’s words, “it’s not supposed to happen this way, parents are to outlive their children.” Every parent who has lost a child understands what this means.
I believe the mothers of Mr. George Floyd and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery are saying, “it just shouldn’t happen this way.” I agree, it just shouldn’t happen this way. Not only did Mr. Floyd and Mr. Arbery die too young, but racism led to the deaths. I believe God, like a mother of us all is saying, “it just shouldn’t happen this way. You were created to be one people, one family and racism is a sin against creation and a rejection of me and my creation.”
In GNJ we have and continue to be an inclusive church, respecting and honoring differences. We have multi-ethnic multi-racial congregations, more than 100 clergy are serving in cross racial appointments, and we are actively seeking justice in a segregated NJ public school system. In our work to be inclusive, we honor God the creator and creation. But it is not enough. When African Americans are being killed for the color of their skin, when Asians are being blamed for the Coronavirus, when Hispanics are told you do not belong here, the church must not point to its progress as though we have done our part. Prejudice and racism continue when we do not speak out about the injustices and treatment of people because of the color of their skin.
Each of us has a moral obligation to be angered and denounce prejudice, racism and privilege when we encounter it. I call all United Methodists to pray, work for and model acceptance, inclusion and equality in our church, in our homes, in our jobs, in our communities and in our schools. I also call all United Methodists to pray for the Floyd and Arbery families during their grief.
May the peace and justice of Christ Jesus abide in and be exemplified through each of us.
Bishop John Schol
United Methodists of Greater New Jersey