American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) joins with the National Council of Churches (NCC), the churches of Baltimore and many others in calling for justice and an end to violence.
In the wake of the death of Freddie Gray and the violence that has followed, ABCUSA joins the NCC in calling for sweeping changes to policing methods and procedures that will finally address the causes for the rage being expressed not only in Baltimore, but in cities across the nation. “Too many young African-American men and women are dying at the hands of the police, and the nation must correct this injustice immediately. We call upon both rioters and police alike to end their violent acts toward one another,” said a statement released by the National Council of Churches.
ABCUSA again highlights a statement made on March 13, 2015, from the Executive Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA, which celebrates the role of American Baptists in the Civil Rights Movement and affirms that all lives matter.
The statement reads:
We celebrate the role of American Baptists in the Civil Rights Movement. The recent commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL, reminds us that this moral movement for justice and equality was birthed in the church from a faith that believes that all are created in the image of God and are worthy of love, justice and respect. Ferguson and other incidents are vivid reminders that our journey as a nation to a society free of racism has not yet ended.
We affirm today that Black lives matter. Every life matters. And we call again upon our churches to bring forth from the wells of our faith a renewed moral movement to end the scourge of racism.
Justice is never abstract; it is the concrete steps we take to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (I John 3:18 NRSV)
ABCUSA echoes the words of the National Council of Churches:
We call upon the press to act on behalf of all people, not simply those in power. We ask the press to not only echo government talking points, but to investigate the reasons for the violence seen in the streets. We call upon the press to report not only how many police are injured in the violence, but how many civilians are as well.
We also applaud the faithful, courageous actions of clergy who have taken to the streets and stood not only for calm and peace, but also for justice and fairness. We urge the clergy of Baltimore and all troubled communities to continue to be an active presence during times of distress and violence.
“For months, and indeed decades, we have seen the tragedies such as the death of Freddie Gray unfold over and over again,” said General Secretary Jim Winkler. “If we as a nation cannot learn from the lessons of these tragedies, we will see our problems get worse. If we can do the kind of soul searching these events call for, we have hope.”
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.
American Baptist Churches USA 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.