For Christ is our peace… he has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
The killing of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 has rocked our nation and world and pierced us to the core. The video image seared into our minds, hearts and souls is horrific, terrifying, disgusting and outrageous. While we’ve each made commitments and statements in our respective areas along with many of our cabinet members, we think it important to speak together as the North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops. We affirm the work being done in each of our conferences, the work of the Council of Bishops, the work of our General Agencies, and the work of our ecumenical and interfaith partners in responding to this heartbreaking, soul-shattering event.
The North Central Jurisdiction, a place of vibrant big cities, small towns, fields, farms, forests, rivers, lakes, the Great Lakes, prairies, is often known for being nice – Midwest nice. The brutal killing of George Floyd laid bare that underneath the veneer of nice exists lingering and persistent racism, a racism that poisons our public life, stifles God-given human potential and diminishes us all. Racism is as virulent a virus as the coronavirus and it is also lethal. It is lethal in brutally public ways, as in the deaths of George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery or Breonna Taylor. It is lethal in quieter ways, in the effects of poverty, lack of educational opportunities, sub-standard health care, lack of access to healthy foods, realities rooted in our country’s history: slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining, separate but equal, native American displacement and trails of tears. Throughout our jurisdiction, racism has an impact on every community of color, including Native Americans, yet we acknowledge that anti-black racism has a unique perniciousness in our history and society.
Together we affirm the teachings of The United Methodist Church that racism is sin and antithetical to the gospel, “that racism is a rejection of the teachings of Jesus Christ… denies the redemption and reconciliation of Jesus Christ,” and “that racism robs all human beings of their wholeness.” Because racism is deeply rooted in our history, it is also deeply entangled in our minds, our hearts, and our systems. We confess and denounce our own complicity. We take a stand against any and all expressions of racism and white supremacy, beginning with the racial, cultural, and class disparities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. We challenge government leaders who fan the flames of racial division for political gain.