Illinois and Wisconsin District issues statement of response to racial injustice

The Church of the Brethren’s Illinois and Wisconsin District has issued a statement of response to racial injustice, signed by district executive minister Kevin Kessler on behalf of the District Leadership Team.

The full text of the letter follows:
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” –Amos 5:24 (NRSV)

“…What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” –Micah 6:8b (NRSV)
The Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren continues the work of Jesus…peacefully…simply…together. Peacefully does not mean the work is without conflict. We enter conflict non-violently striving to treat everyone as we want to be treated. We stand on the side of justice and righteousness for all. The present socio-political climate has revealed that the lives of our black and brown brothers and sisters are under threat and that they are denied the protection and freedom that is justly theirs. We proclaim that we are all beloved children of God and that black and brown lives matter.

We will stand together in solidarity. We will work together to create change. The needed transformation of oppressive systems requires us to understand racial oppression in our culture. We must listen to one another. We who are white must listen to those of us who are brown and black, to understand their experience and learn from their wisdom. We commit to being in courageous conversation with open hearts and generosity of spirit.

The work before us is not simple. It is complex. It must be carried out with an intensity of kindness, humility, compassion, and adherence to the ways of Jesus. This work is not optional; it is required.  

The IL/WI District, in following the teachings of Jesus to dismantle racial injustice, must…
— Listen actively. (John 4:4-42)
— Stand in solidarity with all who seek justice. (Matthew 12:50)
— Recognize where oppressive power dynamics within our own systems (denomination, district, congregations, communities) need transformation. (Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 15:1-9)
We therefore commit to engage in the following:
— A district-wide anti-racism book study (using the Zoom platform)
— A prayer service of lament and commitment
— Publishing links to webinars and educational events provided by Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren
— Including a resource page on the district’s website

We hope for a world where justice rolls down like water, where righteousness flows on eternally, where loving-kindness is experienced as the norm, and where humility is the catalyst for understanding one another more completely. But let us do more than hope. Let us act, always, consistently, to make this hope reality.

Kevin Kessler, District Executive, on behalf of the District Leadership Team

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