Above: Members of the UCC Justice and Witness Ministries in Charlottesville gather for a moment of motivation, a moment of prayer, and a moment of encouragement for people who wanted to provide faithful witness of love anticipating Saturday’s march. Rev. Traci Blackmon, executive minister of UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, explained that as the prayer service was wrapping up, hundreds of white supremacists holding torches converged on the church on the University of Virginia campus. Police shut down the service, concerned they could not guarantee the safety of those gathered. Photo: United Church of Christ
SFTS denounces and opposes white supremacy in all of its many forms, and particularly the violence and terrorism that the world has witnessed in Charlottesville this weekend. San Francisco Theological Seminary embraces and joins in this prophetic and pastoral letter of the Center for Innovation at SFTS, and pledges to be a full partner in the important work of eradicating racism.
—Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald
President, San Francisco Theological Seminary
Sometimes tears dry up because our sadness absorbs them all in the bottom of our souls. So, we wander in shock around the crater that is the question mark of our confusion and our frustration.
The attacks of evil, hatred, and prejudice in Charlottesville are intended to discourage the hope of people. Therefore, they must be met with the presence of faith, love and justice.
We cannot afford the luxury of discouragement or the paralyzing intellectual exercise of seeking a perfect response. Now is the time to defend the helpless, encourage the prophetic and cause an uprising of the faithful.
Hate is a spiritual psychosis expressing itself in violent acts. It has no label, no tribe, no religion or ethnicity. The conflation of White Supremacy with Christianity is a lie that must be denied. Any person, group or church that embraces it or ignores it does so at their own peril. The American poet Maya Angelou reminds us “Hate always destroys the host.”
Love is not an aspirational platitude. For Christians, love is not a feeling of equality. It is the work to make all people equal and included. We are followers of Jesus. For Christians, love has incarnational obligations. Jesus said, “The Spirit of God is upon me, because God has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19.
The Hebrew scriptures remind us of our obligation. “God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.
The Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS believes and affirms the call of our faith. We intend to stir up the gifts and callings of those who would fight for justice, stand for the truth and protect the vulnerable. We will collaborate with all who seek to bring the light into this present darkness. Our theological task is to search for Christian wisdom in the world. Our educational task is to promote and engage in the pedagogy of the oppressed. Our spiritual task is to help all who seek spiritual enlightenment to discern their path and breathe air into deflated hope.
If your church, religious organization or group is engaged in answering this call, please email us and describe your actions in 25 words or less. With your permission, we will add your name as a sponsor to this statement. We will also publish your description on our website’s blog so that others can be encouraged, inspired and informed.
We are not seeking declarations or statements, but actions. If you send in a description, please include an email address or means of contacting your group so that others can collaborate.
Yours in faith, hope and love,
Rev. Floyd Thompkins, Jr.
Center for Innovation in Ministry at SFTS