Sep 02, 2020

The UMC’s Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders (AACLL) executive team has sent a letter to laity across of the U.S. church calling for their commitment to “love one another” and to work together to foster meaningful social change at a time when the nation and its churches are facing social dislocation and other existential challenges. Eastern PA Conference Lay Leader David Koch, association treasurer and a member of the executive team, forwarded the letter, which he helped compose, to conference leaders and urged them to respond and share it with others.   “We gathered in February optimistically anticipating a future guided by vision and filled with action,” says the letter. “We returned home to face a modern pandemic that has cancelled local, conference and denomination-wide activities.”    

Association leaders cite the separation of congregations from their church buildings and church functions and from one another, thus posing a challenge to “how we meaningfully carry on our ministry and mission.” They also point to the recent spate of violence against unarmed Black citizens, especially by police, as evidence of “the sin of deeply rooted racism.”    “Pain, anger, denial and new realizations have further ripped the already frayed fabric of communities across the world,” the letter laments. “We have been called through our baptism to steadfast leadership in this time.”   “As laity we are 99.2% of the church, and our voices matter,” the letter continues, calling on laity to “take action and cause change….We cannot sit as observers…. We will not go back to normal. We cannot be silent. We are vital to the unfolding of God’s hope for us, to be people who hold one another and the communities around us, in love.    The association leaders call on their constituents to pray, to advocate for justice and mercy, to learn and also to “lead courageous conversations about this dual pandemic” of the virus and the violence.    “The season for change and transformation is NOW!” it closes. “In all our own places, let us follow God’s call.” Read the entire letter