A USMB statement regarding racism and recent events surrounding the murder of George Floyd
A USMB statement regarding racism and recent events surrounding the murder of George Floyd:
Article 13 of the USMB Confession of Faith states…
God’s Community of Peace
We believe that God in Christ reconciles people to Himself and to one another, making peace through the cross. The Church is the fellowship of redeemed people living by love. The bond between followers of Jesus transcends all racial, social and national barriers.
We actively pursue peace and reconciliation in all relationships by following Christ’s example and His command to love God, neighbors and even enemies. We strive to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation in families, churches, communities, in our nation, and throughout the world.
As peacemakers we alleviate suffering, reduce strife, promote justice, and work to end violence and war, that others may see a demonstration of Christ’s love. As in other Peace Churches many of us choose not to participate in the military, but rather in alternative forms of service.
Because Jesus is Lord, His example and teaching take priority over nationalism and the demands of human authorities.
Exodus 20:1-17; Jeremiah 29:7; Matthew 5:9, 17-26, 38-48; Romans 12:9-21, 13:8-10; II Corinthians 5:15-20; Ephesians 2:14-18; I Peter 2:19-23
We believe our country is experiencing a necessary Crisis of Conscience and that the witness of the Church is crucial to effect lasting change. By allowing our fellow Americans to be murdered, injured, oppressed and/or terrorized, our nation has failed to honor the way of Christ, not to mention our American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our collective failure as a nation has been immoral and unjust. For followers of Jesus and especially for our U.S. Mennonite Brethren church family, we believe our calling and our witness in these times is to be for the peace and reconciled relationships for which Jesus died on the cross.
Therefore, we call our USMB Family to these things:
- We affirm our support for people with black and brown skin, for all People of Color. We commit ourselves to learning about their experience of racism, both historic and contemporary.
- We affirm our support for people who speak out against injustice and oppression. We commit to using our voices to join with those who are leading against the things that grieve God’s heart.
- We affirm our support for The Rule of Law and call for new laws that protect people of color and all people in vulnerable situations. We call for legislation and laws to make our national culture more just for people of color and/or other people who are powerless and oppressed. We call for laws which will punish those who use the cover of law or law enforcement to unjustly hurt or harm any person, especially a person of color.
- We affirm the overwhelming majority of those in law enforcement who do not differentiate between people of different colors, who look for ways to de-escalate violence, who use force only when absolutely necessary and who place their lives in danger for the sake of all of the people they have pledged to serve. We commit to supporting them and acknowledging their service for our sakes.
- We affirm our belief that we are all created equal by God and deserve the full protection of the law. We commit to seeking the protection of others from unnecessary violent force by anyone, including law enforcement and military. When we see something that is not right, we will say something to those who have the power to change the situation or hold others accountable for unjust actions.
- We condemn racism and we believe that open expressions or actions of racism are sin. We commit to learning about how our own attitudes and actions contribute to our own racist views, however obvious or obscure those views might be to us.
- We condemn violence and brutality. We commit to acting as peacemakers, advocating for non-violent actions by all, including police and military whenever it is possible for them to do so in the line of duty.
- We condemn the injustice and oppression that People of Color have suffered and are suffering. We commit to trying to alleviate and correct that injustice and lift the oppression.
- We condemn the actions of those responsible for the deaths of George Floyd and all others who have been needlessly, cruelly murdered. We commit to speaking to and with our local law enforcement institutions to seek with them a better, less violent way of handling difficult situations.
- We condemn those who have infiltrated peaceful protests in order to cause chaos, destruction, and further harm to People of Color and their allies. We commit to advocating for the rights of those who protest peacefully and, if led by God to do so, joining them either physically or spiritually through prayer and empathy.
What will our path forward look like?
- We must prayerfully and humbly invite the Holy Spirit to check our own hearts for any signs of racism AND invite others to courageously confront us when they observe it in our attitudes or actions.
- We must have hard, uncomfortable conversations about race and injustice in our churches and in our communities. These conversations MUST include people of color, inviting them to share their experiences and fears.
- We must be willing to be open-minded about where and how racism affects those who are not like us and where it is a part of our own daily lives. We must take action within our own spheres of influence and especially where we live, work and serve.
- When we see something, we must say and do something to ensure that racism is not welcome here anymore.
- We must treat others how we would want to be treated.
- We must look inside our church and ask ourselves, “Why aren’t there any people here who don’t look like me?” We commit ourselves to not allow the Church to remain the most segregated institution left in America.
For a more theological and general statement about race and racism among USMBs, please see the USMB Board of Faith and Life Pamphlet, “Race Relations: The Difference that Difference Makes.” It can be found online here. To order a copy of this or other Faith and Life Pamphlets, visit the USMB website for ordering information.
USMB National Director
USMB Board of Faith and Life