I have been asked for my thoughts on the present racial unrest in society. Just to be clear, these are my thoughts only.
The United Methodist Church has a long history against discrimination of any kind. In particular, the Church stands against racism, the practice of which is a chargeable offense for both clergy and laity. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church is very clear on this subject. However, this does not mean the church is free of racism. It does mean the church never approves of racist talk or action.
It is true that racism is not new in the United States, but it is also true that it must not continue. It is both un-American and unchristian. As Bishop Carter and his cabinet have written: “Racism is a sin and is blatantly incompatible with Christian teaching.” At St. Andrew’s UMC we teach and preach the love of God and neighbor, which leads to inclusiveness in every way. We must not negate the life and teaching of Jesus by racist talk or action. Indeed, as Christians, we must examine our own souls then be proactive in denouncing racism in any form.
A recent communication from the episcopal office speaks to healing and unity with the following words: “We repent of our individual and collective sins of omission and commission, particularly our silence and when we have not actively worked for racial justice.” It continues: “We commit to further training of our clergy and resourcing local churches in order to create heart transformation for all Florida United Methodists.”
The transformed life that does justice, embraces faithful love and walks humbly with God is the enemy of racism. Here lies the answer, not printed words, as important as they are, but the transformed life that practices the love of God as seen in Christ. It is what we do as Christians. Proclamations may be made and resolutions written and passed, but they mean nothing unless hearts and minds are changed.
To be clear, racism will be eradicated one heart at a time.