A Letter From Our Conference Minister Regarding the Past Week in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
I pray that you dwell in faith and the abiding grace and hope of the Christ.
This past week we have been reminded of the vital importance of living the values of our faith and the need to be church…To love God, love neighbor and love creation. We are reminded that as the faithful of the Christ we must work to make the world a better place for all God’s people.
As members of the United Church of Christ we are grateful that God has already instilled in us a new awareness and commitment to stand against white supremacy, bigotry and injustice. We are saddened and dismayed by the occurrences of this past week-end in Charlottesville, Virginia, the rise of intolerance, the continued hate of extremist groups.
An anonymous individual was heard to state: “if we are not outraged, we are not paying attention.”
The message and witness of our faith and steadfast love for God and neighbor needs to be heard. We must speak; our voices need to rise and denounce sin, hate and bigotry. Our legacy needs to be one of acceptance, love and inclusion.
We would expect that in our time the extremist rhetoric of neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups would have passed and yet they seem to find sanction. The mayor of Charlottesville, Michael Signer, told the CBS news hour that he believes the "responsibility for this coarsening of our dialogue and for the invitation of open bigotry and open incitement and the prejudices, goes right to the doorstep of the presidency and the people around him who chose to dance with the devil in their presidential campaign." In 2017 the US President failed to immediately denounce white supremacy, and violence. Not denouncing hate and violence is the same as “sitting on the fence.” The comment by President Trump: “display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” is lacking in decisive leadership that is desperately needed.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe showed the type of decisive leadership we might have expected from the President when he stated: "I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today, Our message is plain and simple, go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth - shame on you.”
The week-end occurrence in Virginia is only a small element of the challenge we are facing and what may be causing outrage. Our Love of God, neighbor and creation puts us at odds with the threat of war, military intervention, attack on the environment and so much more. It is unacceptable to stand silent while immigrants, the LGBT community, Muslims, and others are blamed for our ills, while at the same time, neo-Nazis, the KKK, Unite the Right rally carry out acts of violence without being denounced. We are living at a time when the values of the gospel must be raised; the past errors of our nation’s legacy corrected, a new paradigm lived.
We are being called on to be Church, to speak truth to power, to a revolution of values, grounded in hope and God’s message of love. I pray that God gives us the fortitude and courage to be an extension of God’s love in our nation and the world.
May God bless us and make God’s face to shine upon us,
Jorge L. Morales
Rev. Dr. Jorge Morales is the Conference Minister for the Illinois Conference of the United Church of Christ