Robert Griggs prays with others outside Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, SC

Bishops call on churches to pray, preach against racism

Bishop Peggy Johnson asks all Eastern PA Conference churches to offer special prayers this Sunday, Sept. 6, (and on subsequent Sundays) for an end to racism. Her request is in response to a call issued Wednesday by the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church’s Council of Bishops asking all churches to engage this Sunday in “A Day of Confession, Repentance, and Commitment to End Racism.”

Pan-Methodists LogoA full-communion, Pan-Methodist partner of the UMC, the A.M.E Church asks all houses of worship–including temples, synagogues and mosques–to preach and pray this Sunday for an end to racism, reminding their congregations that “God created all of us to dwell together in unity.” The historically black denomination still grieves the heinous, racially motivated murder in June of eight members and their pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, S.C.

A.M.E. Church bishops held a press conference Sept. 2, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., joined by colleagues from the A.M.E. Zion Church and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church and by Jim Winkler, head of the National Council of Churches and former General Secretary of the UMC’s Board of Church and Society. Speakers presented ideas and called for immediate action to address criminal justice reform, education, economic justice, voting rights and other racial concerns. “We must move beyond talk,” they said. “We must act.”

For worship leaders and pastors who need help planning liturgy or lessons for Sunday’s focus on race and racism the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, also a full-communion partner of our denomination, offers worship resources. And Taylor Burton-Edwards, Director of Worship Resources at Discipleship Ministries, just posted “Reflections on the Lectionary Texts” in his worship blog.

Finally, we recently posted on this Website a sermon on challenging racism that’s worth reading. The Rev. Beverly Andrews, pastor of Chiques UMC in Mount Joy, wrote and preached this message in June, just after the Emanuel A.M.E. Church murders. She recalls the courage of David when he faced the enormous, evil Goliath with an invincible weapon far greater than any earthly power or principality: his “Confidence in God.” She preaches that “racial and ethnic hatred is the Goliath of our day…and we must be ready, like David, to step up and use the tools God has given us as God’s people.”

As part of its ongoing coverage of this issue, Eastern PA Conference Communications asks that you share with us what your congregation is doing or planning to address racism and race relations in your community and in our society. Please write to us at communications@epaumc.org.

John Coleman
Eastern PA Conference Communications Director

Photo: United Methodists joined AME members in prayer following the deadly shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. UMNS Photo by Lekisa Coleman-Smalls.