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Published on July 19th, 2013 | by ABCUSA


In Wake of Zimmerman Trial, ABHMS Calls for Meaningful Dialogue

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 7/19/13)—The trial of George Zimmerman—which captured the attention of our nation, often polarizing us around perspectives on race and justice—is finally over. While the path of least resistance might bend toward forgetting this tragedy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) believes the love of Christ, instead, calls us to remember.  

Love of Christ compels us to face the awful stain the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman encounter has left upon the soul of our nation. It might be easier to move on to the next safe thing—to secretly share our perspectives with like-minded others while believing that “someone” ought to do “something”—but this is not the time for timidity, safety or silence. It is a time for those of us who love Jesus and care about our world to risk being misunderstood in order to be someone who does something to make a difference.

While Trayvon Martin’s death was headline news for 18 months children were dying daily in communities throughout our nation—innocent victims of human indifference and gun violence. American Baptist Home Mission Societies believes it is reasonable to expect that all children, red, yellow, black, brown and white, have the right to safely and joyfully navigate the streets of the beloved community.

Our precious children are not responsible for assuaging fear of the cultures and races they represent; they must not bear the burden of our prejudices, nor can they exorcise our personal demons. Laws can be manipulated to grant freedom for the use of deadly force when fear overwhelms, but only God’s love has the power to cast out fear. It is time for American Baptists, as the people of God, to come together in love to cast out fear.

Our love of Christ must call us to works that are centered on the elimination of gun violence, economic oppression, racial stereotyping and cultural discord. The love of Christ calls us to work that has, at its forefront, pathways to meaningful dialogue among persons with differing perspectives. Our love must be courageous and bold; it must result in action.

The work ahead will be difficult, unpopular in some quarters, and misunderstood in others. Nevertheless, this work is essential, and it will continue. This is the time for those of us who are passionate about the sanctity of life, community and freedom to take a stand. American Baptist Home Mission Societies is here for such a time as this.

Over the coming days and weeks, ABHMS will utilize social media to post links to articles and resources related to the relationship between faith and public witness, to encourage dialogue, and to invite and highlight youth perspectives and theological reflections from ABCUSA-related colleges and seminaries and more. We invite you into dialogue around these perspectives and reflections on the ABHMS Facebook page.

Join us on this journey of healing and hope.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA)—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.

American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.

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