If one member suffers, we all suffer and hurt together. – I Corinthians 12:26
Dear Friends in Christ,
Recently our sisters and brothers of our Native American congregation at St. John United Methodist Church in Fordville, NJ arrived at church to find their flag poles pulled down, memorial garden flower boxes torn apart, a new memorial stone honoring veterans pushed over and grave markers in their sacred cemetery damaged. This senseless act of vandalism is presently being investigated by the N.J. State Police and the Attorney General’s office of New Jersey to determine if this is a hate crime. This is a particularly painful time for this congregation who recently attended the funeral of their much beloved pastor, Rev. Roy Bundy, after 20 years of service to both the congregation and community.
Throughout the pandemic, St. John UMC has been a source of hope and healing as each week they give food and clothing to more than 300 families. Many in the community of different ages, races and church affiliations have partnered with them to be a beacon of light. It is this congregation and tribe that have been invited into the local schools to share Native American history, customs, and even their faith story.
St. John’s cemetery has been the place where families throughout the area with few resources have been able to lay their loved ones to rest.
As the scripture proclaims, “when one of us hurts, we all hurt together.” Our hearts go out to the congregation of St. John UMC and to our Native American family that has lived peacefully in this area for so many generations only to still find themselves victims of hate and vandalism.
As United Methodists in GNJ, we have vowed together to dismantle the sin of racism, and to bring just, equity and hope and to be one in the Creator. This Sunday we call all United Methodists to pray for the people of St. John UMC, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribe and the community. Let us all continue to work toward ending the sin of racism in our church, communities and world. Let us be the difference makers in sharing the love of Christ.
Keep the faith!
Glenn J. Conaway
Southern Region District Superintendent, Delaware Bay & Gateway South