Christians declare: now is not the time to go silent about racism
We, the undersigned leaders and participants in Christian congregations in Western Nevada County, based on our common desire to be followers of Jesus and his teachings, join together in witnessing to the world that we reject the separateness and exclusivity that manifest so harmfully in racism. Instead, we commit to working towards uniting and reconciling with all our brothers and sisters, all God’s children, across all barriers, and to that end:
We turn away from our desire to believe that racism only exists in other times, other places, or in other people. We embrace examining honestly how racism unconsciously conditions our attitudes and blinds us to the injustice built into systems we accept, depend on, and even revere.
We turn away from our desire to move too quickly to an easy reconciliation that abandons justice for the sake of avoiding conflict.
We embrace seeking true repair and healing while remaining insistent about the demands of justice.
We turn away from our ignorance of the ways many of our churches have contributed to the very theology and ideologies of inequality based on race and the unequal value of different classifications of human beings.
We embrace working to realistically face the historic harms done by our Christian tradition, as well as to heed the prophetic voices and actions of those in our same traditions who have called for justice and equality, even when the dominant direction was opposite.
We turn away from our silence when injustice, including racism, is evident in our community, nation, and world — when bold and prophetic voices are required, but our fear of dissension or loss of support muffles our conscience.
We embrace recognizing that silence about injustice is to be complicit in perpetuating it, and therefore challenge ourselves to speak out effectively and compassionately for healing.
We turn away from our tendency to let our acts of charity on behalf of our churches substitute or suffice, when our faith demands more—advocacy and systemic change.
We embrace strengthening our acts of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and other traditions of kindness towards those in need, while also using those experiences to propel us to action in our social and political life to change the systems that perpetuate inequity, including racism.
We turn away from our contentedness to speak our confessions, prayers, and proclamations of “justice and release from oppression” only within the walls of our houses of worship, while avoiding the risk of saying them in public.
We embrace “speaking truth to power,” recognizing we are part of that power and privilege. We have responsibility to proclaim to society that which we pray for in church.
Rev. Seth Kellerman, Emmanuel Episcopal Church; Pastor Bill Wong, Peace Lutheran Church; Pastor David Niu, Nevada City United Methodist Church; Rev. Cathy Love, Grass Valley United Methodist Church; Rev. Suzanne Calhoun, Sierra Pines United Methodist Church; Rev. Dr. Judson O. Gears, The United Methodist Church; Rev. Kate O’Leary, United Methodist Church; Rev. Don Baldwin, United Methodist Church; Rev. George Carter, United Methodist Church; Rev. Sharon Delgado, United Methodist Church / Earth Justice Ministries; Rev. Patricia Spooner, United Methodist Church; Rev. Jerry Farrell, Unity Minister; Brian Fry, board member, Earth Justice Ministries; Guarionex Delgado, president, Earth Justice Ministries; Daryl Grigsby, author, “In Their Footsteps: Inspirational Reflections on Black History”; Becky Gillespie, adviser, Earth Justice Ministries.
This statement of faith regarding systemic racism is the outgrowth of discussions among local Christians from different denominations who are convinced that the teachings and example of Christ call us and other Christians to learn deeply about the origins of racism in our institutional histories and the legacy of racism in our present practices.
We acknowledge and value our kinship with people of other faith traditions, spiritual practices, and secular philosophies, many of whom have preceded us in awareness and actions to heal from racism, including people in our community who have been much more visible than Christian churches have so far. This statement of faith is an initial invitation to those who identify as Christians or as followers of Christ to join with others in taking a public stand.
Those who have signed on, so far, are few in number, but this is a start. Anyone who wishes to sign on can do so through the Earth Justice Ministries website at earth-justice.org or at PO Box 783, Nevada City, CA 95959. One can sign on as clergy, laity, or as individuals. You can identify with a particular denomination or congregation or not, as you feel appropriate. You might choose different wording or a different perspective. You might wish to make your own statement. You might wish to have it be more inclusive of other faiths and spiritual traditions. We welcome dialogue.
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