A Spiritual Love Letter
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes words filled with warmth and gratitude. It is a love letter of sorts. Paul is thankful for the Philippian church and for their kindness. He writes this letter acknowledging their generosity and encouraging them to press on.
We, the ABCUSA Anti-Racism Task Force, pen these words in this same spirit of acknowledgement and encouragement with warmth and gratitude. We are grateful for the historical involvement of the ABCUSA in addressing inequities, biases, hatred, and indifference. We are grateful for the commitment of the denomination to proclaim the “good news of the Gospel of Jesus the Christ” in real and tangible ways. We acknowledge the courage of the ABCUSA to lead with love as abolitionists and spokespersons for the gift of diversity. We are grateful that ABCUSA has, in so many ways, led with love in response to the pressing needs and inequities of the past and of our present day. We are grateful. We must press on.
As with Paul, we write these words in the midst of a world entrenched in what W.E.B. DuBois called a “peculiar indifference.” This peculiar indifference supports inequities and biases that have become so deeply entrenched and often unchallenged in our society and in the Church. Elie Wiesel confirms DuBois’ words when he says, “The peril threatening humankind today is indifference even more than hatred. There are more people who are indifferent than there are people who hate. Hate is an action. Hate takes time. Hate takes energy. And even it demands sacrifices. Indifference is nothing. But indifference to hatred is encouraging hatred and is justifying hatred. So, what we must do, I mean your peers and mine, is fight indifference.” We must press on.
On Saturday, October 30, the ABCUSA Anti-Racism Task Force will host a virtual Anti-Racism Symposium. Mark your calendar. The focus of this symposium is: The Prophetic Rhythm of Anti-Racism. We will send more information within the next couple of weeks. This is the final task given to us by the ABCUSA Board of General Ministries, Dr. Jeff Woods and President Karen Podsiadly. We press on.
We have submitted a proposal to the Executive Committee of the ABCUSA Board of General Ministries recommending the development of the ABCUSA Anti-Racism Commission with recommendations for adequate staffing to secure the continuation of this sacred work. We ask for prayers for ourselves, as the ABCUSA, as we press on toward the prize of the high calling. We are one of the most diverse denominations in the country. Our vision is to become the most anti-racist denomination in the world as we build the “Beloved Community” which is God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, to reality. We press on.
The ABCUSA Anti-Racism Task Force:
Rev. Justin Thornburgh
Rev. Dr. Eugene Downing
Rev. Joan C. Friesen
Rev. Dr. Don Ng
Rev. Rodney Lynch
Rev. Dr. Dan Brockway
Rev. Abner Cotto-Bonilla
Rev. Dr. Natalie C. Wimberly