An unprecedented coming together of pastors and ministry leaders in the Falls Church area has coalesced behind a strongly-worded statement expressing, it says, “with a unified voice, our sorrow over the tragic events in Charlottesville,” underscoring “the broken state of our commonwealth, our country and the world.” The group joins with similar leaders in Richmond, Virginia, standing in solidarity to express the sentiment. The statement resolves “to preach, teach and advocate against the sins of racism,” adding, “We resolve to lead in the way of love, and to seek ways to heal the divisions that separate races and cultures in our city. We resolve to listen to those who have been wounded and dehumanized by racism. We resolve to pray fervently for God’s healing and reconciliation. We resolve to help our churches become more hospitable and welcoming communities to diverse people.”
The initial signators to the statement include Dr. James Baucom Jr. of the Columbia Baptist Church, The Rev. Jeanne Brenneis, chaplain of the Capital Caring Hospice of North Arlington’s Rock Springs United Church of Christ, the Rev. Michael Hinson for the St. Stephens and St. Agnes School and the Falls Church Episcopal, the Rev. Dr. M. Davies Kirkland of the Dulin United Methodist Church, the Rev. John Ohmer of the Falls Church Episcopal, James Sledge, pastor of the Falls Church Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Dr. Denise Wilson of the Rock Christian Center of Falls Church and the Rev. Dr. John Yates II of the Falls Church Anglican.
Those initiating this joint statement, according to Rev. Ohmer, include Baucom, Kirkland, Yates and himself. They’ve formed a website to invite others to sign on, as well. This kind of thing is quite new to Falls Church.
“We affirm that every human being is created in the image of God, and therefore carries the inherent value and dignity of God’s design,” the statement reads. “We affirm that the variety of human cultures on earth is a beautiful expression of God’s love for diversity.” It then states, “We reject the ideology of white supremacy, including anti-semitism, as an unqualified evil, a denunciation of the gospel and a heresy which wars against God’s design for human culture and creation. We reject the notion that white people, or any collection of humans of any culture, are superior to any other. We reject any ideology that seeks to erect or maintain divisions that God has torn down.”
Finally, it added that “We repent because the church has been complicit in the sins of racism, either through the defense of slavery, segregation, and discrimination, or through passive silence and inactivity…We repent of our own racism, fear and hatred, both conscious and unconscious. We repent of our reluctance to be agents of healing and reconciliation in our churches, in our cilty and in our nation.”
This is a good start. We concur with it and hope the list of those who do also grows.