“Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.” — 1 John 4:20
The Gospel of God’s love for all people stands squarely against all beliefs and actions that would give one group of people power or privilege over others on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, economic status, or any other characteristic.
True unity, healing, and reconciliation can come to this nation only when all persons are treated with justice, equity, and respect as full members of our society.
The events in Charlottesville have once again awakened us to a fact that the sins of racism and antisemitism are alive and well in American society. As people of faith, we must challenge and resist them in the name of the gracious God revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
God calls us to faithfully and actively respond to not only the hateful words and violent acts of white supremacists, but also the structures and legacies of institutional racism that create patterns of racial disparity. “The life and words of Jesus challenge us to see our places of privilege and to walk in new ways.” (WCC Statement on Institutional Racism.)
The roots and reverberations, the wounds and the warnings from the events in Charlottesville will remain even as new developments and crises call for our response. What will our response be?
As communities of faith:
- We can create safe places in which to begin dialogue about this event and the larger topic of racial disparity.
- We can identify racial disparities which exist in our communities (i.e., families, church, workplaces, etc.)
- We can work together to both understand and address racial disparities in new and creative ways to effect change.
The church can and must be an agent of change and reconciliation.
As a membership organization representing 19 Christian denominations, the Wisconsin Council of Churches offers some tools and resources to assist churches and their communities in this important work.
Wisconsin’s Racial Disparties: “On Behalf of our Children and the Call of the Gospel” a four-session study guide produced by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, is a good place to start. The study guide leads you and other adults in your congregation through a thoughtful discussion about race and white privilege, the data from the Casey Foundation study, and concludes with some action planning for you and your congregation to plot your next steps.
Many of our member denominations have issued statements speaking out again the violence and hatred witnessed by the world in Charlottesville.
We offer the following links to statements, prayer and worship materials, and resources for continuing reflection and action for you and your faith community.
Statements on Charlottesville from WCC Member groups or their parent bodies:
African Methodist Episcopal Church: https://www.ame-church.com/news/cob-statement-re-violence-charlottesville-virginia/
Christian Church – Disciples of Christ: http://disciples.org/office-of-the-general-minister-and-president/word-regarding-charlottesville/
Church of God in Christ (COGIC): http://www.cogic.org/blog/presiding-bishops-statement-on-the-violence-in-virginia/
Church of the Brethren: http://www.brethren.org/news/2017/and-who-is-my-neighbor.html
Episcopal Church: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2017/08/17/presiding-bishop-reflects-on-charlottesville-and-its-aftermath/
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7896
Greater Milwaukee Synod, ELCA (Bishop’s Sermon): https://milwaukeesynod.org/2017/08/9035/
Mennonite Central Committee: https://mcc.org/stories/statement-white-supremacy-racism
Moravian Church: http://www.moravian.org/news-a-media/new-and-events/charlottesville-letter/
Orthodox Church in America: http://www.midwestdiocese.org/news_170817_1.html
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): http://www.pcusa.org/news/2017/8/14/pcusa-leaders-condemn-white-supremacy-racism/
Reformed Church in America: https://www.rca.org/news/don-poest-responds-charlottesville
United Church of Christ: http://www.ucc.org/news_ucc_pastoral_letter_condemns_racist_violence_in_charlottesville_demands_equality_for_all_08152017
United Methodist Church – Wisconsin Conference: http://www.wisconsinumc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3521:leadership-speak-out-against-white-supremacy&catid=259:local-state-news
Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee: https://www.interfaithconference.org
Leadership Conference of Women Religious: https://lcwr.org/media/lcwr-condemns-racism-all-forms
Other Faith Statements
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation: http://www.milwaukeejewish.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/2017-August_Charlottesville.pdf
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice: http://wisconsinfaithvoicesforjustice.weebly.com/voices-for-justice-blog/wisconsin-faith-voices-for-justice-condemns-violence-and-racism-in-charlotteville
American Sikh Council: https://americansikhcouncil.org/2017/08/13/asc-condemns-the-horrific-hate-crimes-in-charlottesville-va/
National Council of Churches: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/ncc-condemns-unite-the-right/
NCC & Conference of National Black Churches: http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/joint-statement-by-rev-dr-franklyn-richardson-and-dr-jim-winkler/
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-144.cfm
Resources for Individuals and Congregations
A Prayer for Charlottesville, 1 John 4:20 (Christian Church – Disciples of Christ): http://worshipwords.co.uk/a-prayer-for-charlottesville-1-john-420/
Prayer for witness against racial injustice at Charlottesville Rally (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America): http://www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7895?t=1&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email&iid=be6487280a1e41ff8c6acf489e0fb338&uid=1725496136&nid=244+273158152
Liturgy of confession (United Church of Christ):
Resources for Discussion
Resources for Reflection and Action
Auburn Seminary: After Charlottesville, What’s Next? http://auburnseminary.org/charlottesville-whats-next/
Episcopal Church: “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?”
https://www.episcopalchurch.org/updated-resources and Racial Reconciliation resources https://www.episcopalchurch.org/racial-reconciliation
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Resources for Congregations and Pastors to Stand Against Racism and White Supremacy
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Human Life and Dignity – Racism http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/racism/index.cfm
Southern Poverty Law Center: “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide”