July 22, 2020

Racial Justice

“If the precipitation of racial crisis by Negro leaders and communities across this land of ours has done nothing else, it has given ‘white’ churches and communities an ‘excuse’ to confess their sins and to redeem themselves with resolute and courageous action. The question of the moment is whether this assembly convened under the deepening shadows of racial conflict and discord, of brokenness and alienation, can effect within its life a reasonable measure of reconciliation. Indeed, the hour is late, but not too late. The storm is upon us, but Christ still has the power to calm the raging winds and the troubled sea-if only we would put our trust in him.

“God forbid that this Conference, amidst the urgency of the hour, should simply pass another resolution. May we stand in His strength until he has wrought in us his holy will.”

Gospel Messenger, July 27, 1963. Thomas Wilson made this statement during the discussion of the statement “The Time ls Now”, at the 1963 Annual Conference. Tom is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and was the pastor of a Brethren congregation at the time.

” the failure of Brethren to stand in solidarity with people of color—both in our own communities and beyond—does not feel to me like helping, but rather like denying the experiences of many of us. And it seems to invalidate our ‘simply, peacefully, and together’ motto that once seemed so simple.”

From the Messenger special report, “Reflections on Race,” January/February 2015

Articles from 2016

Photo by Paul Stocksdale

“There is a strong desire for the church to act. For some that means finding their own voice. For others it is a desire to see the wider denominational leadership act so that they can join with a larger movement. I look forward to seeing how we build on our values—from the early Brethren statements on slavery, to the 1963 call to action in ‘The Time Is Now to Heal Our Racial Brokenness,’ to the call for continued education about the intricacies of intercultural competency and racial awareness in ‘Separate No More.’

“We have an opportunity to build on this legacy in a way that honors our history and the unique ways that the Church of the Brethren continues the work of Jesus . . . peacefully, simply, and together.”

From Thermostat or thermometer, January/February 2017

Photo by Mike Stevens

Ronald Robinson and Tim Harvey at Oak Grove Church of the Brethren

“The significant thing about BLM to me is that it is a unified movement among black people; historically, that is a very rare thing. And to the degree that it has brought attention to the difficult relationships between police and poor, black neighborhoods, I’m glad for it.

“Unfortunately, there has been a degree of hooliganism from some who have attached themselves to BLM. But we also saw this by white people after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. But somehow that’s ‘different,’ even though it’s really not. We don’t define other events by the bad behavior of fringe participants. Why do we judge Black Lives Matter by these standards?

From an interview with a Brethren police officer: http://www.brethren.org/messenger/articles/2018/no-easy-answers.html

Four stories of a Sankofa journey and a review of 180 years of Church of the Brethren statements on race, from January/February 2018

Photo by Wendy McFadden

Remember. Repent. Repair., November 2019.

Healer of our every ill, May 2020

In addition to these articles on racial justice from Messenger, Discipleship Ministries offers resources on white supremacy, and Intercultural Ministries has a page of related resources. Search Annual Conference statements here.