Dear Friends in Christ,
In our nation, wildfires burn in California, a powerful hurricane swept through the Caribbean and came ashore on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Texas, racial issues continue as a police officer shot another African American, Jacob Blake, which gave rise to new demonstrations and even riots and a white teenager killing protesters, a presidential campaign is driving wedges in communities, homes and even the church, and more than 180,000 people have died from COVID-19.
Our pain deepens, our anger burns and our fear increases.
Some describe these times through the end times in the book of Revelation, others call forth texts from the prophets to let justice roll down like water and others like Jesus, weep over the city of Jerusalem.
Where is the Good News of Jesus Christ? Where is the God news?
UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) was planning and mobilizing for hurricane relief even before the hurricane rolled ashore.
United Methodist churches in the Western Jurisdiction are sheltering and caring for those affected by the fires.
A GNJ team working with more than 100 leaders have created a plan, A Journey of Hope to integrate our mission and the work of ending the sin of racism in GNJ and working to create greater inclusion in all of our churches.
GNJ churches are distributing 20,000 meals a month to people who have been affected by the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.
GNJ has said that in the midst of our differences, we will find a way forward together and that we may not think alike, yet we will love alike.
The Good News doesn’t quiet the bad news, but it helps us find a way through the bad news. The Good News is 2 Timothy 4:7, I have fought the good fight…I have kept the faith. The Good News is hope that fuels justice, faces into the stiff winds, sees people as people and not as their political affiliations, undertakes the hard work to end the sin of racism, and finds a way forward when others cannot find a way.
Friends in Christ, we live for another day, but in this day we mourn with those who have lost, we walk with those who experience injustice, we help those who are hurt, we love those who feel unloved.
I call each of you to be bearers of the Good News and to pray for the healing of our land. I call upon you in these most difficult economic times to give generously when the storms of life rage, to work to understand one another, to learn about inclusion and equity, to stand up against racism and to stand with those who are victims of hate, storms, fires, and pandemics. Let us all this weekend pray for our nation and the people around the world.
Keep the faith!
Bishop John Schol
United Methodists of Greater New Jersey