Jun 08, 2020

Bishops of both The United Methodist Church and its Northeastern Jurisdiction have issued statements pledging—and calling on United Methodists to pledge—solidarity with others protesting systemic racism and racial violence committed by police and others against Black people.

The Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops issued a pastoral letter Monday, June 8, calling out “the devastating effects of racism” in the “murder of African Americans numerous times in the past in this country.” They also lament “systemic, structural racism” in many other facets of life, including health care, employment, education, wealth, the criminal justice system and housing…” Racism even infects our churches, they acknowledge.

They cite the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference’s “Call to Action” to address institutional racism in the church. They confess that “it has fallen short and needs to continue with even more urgency and passion.”

Their letter goes onto state commitments made by “the White bishops of the NEJ, in consultation with the bishops of color.” In summary, they pledge to:

  • Confess and repent of personal and denominational racism and white privilege.
  • Challenge theologies and practices that support systemic racism, and replace them with systems of justice and equality.
  • Engage with “sisters and brothers of color” in a process of reconciliation.
  • Seek education and opportunities to bring their “prophetic voices to the public arena.”

The UMC Council of Bishops, in their statement June 8, call on United Methodists to “act now by using their voices, pens, feet and hearts to end racism.” They join with other church leaders and UMC boards and agencies in proclaiming that “we will no longer remain silent nor complicit but must act now!”   

“We ask every United Methodist to name the egregious sin of racism and white supremacy and join together to take a stand against the oppression and injustice that is killing persons of color,” writes Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, Council president. She urges every United Methodist to “name the egregious sin of racism and white supremacy and join together to take a stand against the oppression and injustice that is killing persons of color.”

As part of the that pledge, for at least the next 30 days, all United Methodists everywhere are asked to join in prayer at 8:46 AM and PM for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time the officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck.  “Pray for all persons of color who suffer at the hands of injustice and oppression.  Pray for our church as we take a stand against racism.”

The NEJ College of Bishops also pledge to pray for racial justice across the jurisdiction but to do even more. “We are also marching with you on the streets of our cities,” they write, “naming the names, calling out our public leaders for advocating violence against peaceful protestors, and mobilizing our churches for action and response. 

“It is our prayer that this time of crisis will become an opportunity for transformation and that the church can be a moral light that leads to peace with justice.  Together we can accomplish this through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Click here to read the full statement from the Council of Bishops.

Click here to read the full letter from the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops