Ending the Isolation–A Statement from the Office of Public Witness on the Recent Violence Against Black Churches

 “In recent years there has been a re-emergence of Klan-like hate groups and increases in racially motivated violence around the country.”

Report of Committee on Brethren and black Americans, 1991 Annual Conference

The horrific violence at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in opwCharleston, South Carolina is not an isolated incident. As Jelani Cobb states in his recent New Yorker article, “Even if [Dylann Roof] acted by himself, he was not alone” and the recent burning of 6 predominantly black churches underscores the systemic violence and racism that our black brothers and sisters have always faced in America. Burning of black churches has been an ongoing practice since the Civil War intended to terrorize black communities and leaders.

When black lives and churches are faced with an increased danger, they often feel isolated from the wider, whiter community. While our denomination is predominately white, we are still called to stand in faith and solidarity with all our brothers and sisters in Christ –especially those who persecuted. In response to the shootings at Emanuel AME Church, General Secretary Stan Noffsinger and Director of Intercultural Ministries Gimbiya Kettering sent a letter of condolence and support on behalf of our denomination. We must, as Stan and Gimbiya emphasized in their letter, ask our black sisters and brothers what they would have us do and how we can best stand with them. One way to do this right now is to contact black churches in your community –and let them know that they are not alone.

Crucially, we must also commit ourselves to the task of deconstructing and destroying the racism that lies within ourselves and our church. Our 1991 statement reminds us of the weight and importance of this task saying, “Because racism is built into our way of life, it is extremely difficult to unmask it and honestly face the radical changes that need to be made in ourselves and our institutions if it is to be eradicated.” If we are unwilling to commit ourselves to these tasks then we dishonor the gospel of Jesus and forsake our black brothers and sisters. Paul reminds us in the second chapter of Ephesians that Christ has brought down the dividing wall and destroyed the hostility that once existed between peoples. Thus, any hostility, racism, or violence towards one another is of our own doing and blatantly disregards the reconciling work Christ has done for us all.

It is more important than ever that we call out this racism and violence for the sin that it is, respond to the voices of our black sisters and brothers, join them in solidarity, and live out lives of faith and justice that repudiate racism and follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s Peace,
Nathan Hosler
Director, Office of Public Witness

*Consider Donating to the National Council of Churches “Burned Churches Fund” to support these churches that have faced this recent violence:  http://nationalcouncilofchurches.us/pages/burned-churches-fund

**If interested in further reflection, the text of Nathan’s sermon given at Washington City Church of the Brethren on this recent violence can be found here: http://washingtoncitycob.org/2015/06/28/there-may-yet-be-hope-a-reflection-on-the-charleston-massacre/

Gathering to bear fruit

Photo taken at Annual Conference 2014.

Photo taken at Annual Conference 2014.

A reflection by Matt DeBall

“Abide in My Love… and Bear Fruit” (John 15:9-17).

What does it mean to embody the love of God? What does it look like to gather together and make decisions in a way that shows Christ’s love to others? As delegates and members of the Church of the Brethren gather for Annual Conference in less than 10 days, it is these questions that will guide their time in business and worship.

Those attending Annual Conference in Tampa, Fla. on July 11-15 will travel from near and far, domestically and internationally to be involved in this important gathering of the church. However, whether or not you will be in Tampa, there are several ways you can share the love of Christ and participate in this year’s Annual Conference:

  • Donate blood at the Blood Drive on July 13 and 14. 
  • View webcasts of business and worship. 
  • Support the ministry of webcasting so that it may continue for future Conferences. 
  • Go to the news index page for Annual Conference to keep up with news reports, daily photo albums, webcasting, sermons, and more at www.brethren.org/AC2015.

Regardless of how you participate in Annual Conference, we look forward to seeing how the love of Jesus transforms us in our time together. For it is when we are gathered together, whether in body or in Spirit, that we may remain in the love of Christ and bear much fruit.

Your participation at Annual Conference, whether on site or remotely, is valuable for the life of the Church of the Brethren. Learn more about Annual Conference 2015 at www.brethren.org/ac. Follow events during the Conference at www.brethren.org/AC2015.

(Read this issue of eBrethren)

Devotions (EYN Daily Link) July 5 – 11, 2015

DAILY LINK WITH GOD 2015EYN Devotions graphic
A Daily Devotional Guide from the
EYN (Church of the Brethren in Nigeria)

EYN leaders in Nigeria believe prayer is one of the most important ways to support the Nigerian people and the Church.  These daily devotions were written by EYN members and published by the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. Reading them daily is a powerful way we can be in solidarity and connect with our brothers and sisters caught in this crisis.  EYN’s daily devotional for 2015 will be posted a week at a time on this blog, appearing mid-week for the following week. More information about the crisis can be found at www.nigeriacrisis.org.

Click on this link for Devotions July 5 – 11, 2015