A Statement from the Florida Conference Cabinet on the Attack at the Capitol on January 6The scenes that unfolded in our nation’s capital on Wednesday are troubling on many levels. Images that we never could have imagined happening were on news and media outlets as they documented the chaos and violence wrought by the crowds that gathered. These images captured for us all a clear picture of a broken and disunified nation and the sin of white privilege, as well as the horrific results of disinformation and conspiracy theories promulgated by the president and many others, publicly and through social media. We want to say this is not America, yet what we have witnessed in recent years, and most particularly in these last weeks, compels us to acknowledge that, in fact, this is America. Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God,” (Matthew 5:9). Peacemaking begins with individual and corporate confession and asking hard questions with the goal of transformation. Let us examine and compare the events of the spring and summer, in the way people of color protesting peacefully were treated, as opposed to the treatment of white rioters who assaulted the Capitol, the center of our nation’s government. White privilege and white supremacy, undergirded by conspiracy theories, erode the fiber of the true good in our country and in the world. This is not the America that we want to be or the foundational value that we believe America can be.
In response, as the Cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, we acknowledge that this is a watershed moment for us all—as disciples of Jesus Christ and as citizens of the United States of America. We have learned from history that people of faith do not always speak out quickly when there is evidence of wrongdoing and abuse of national power. Therefore, in this instance, we wish to point toward what we are doing and will continue to do to live more faithfully and seek a more just world:
- Intentionally engage white clergy and laity in acknowledging the reality that “whiteness” is a cultural reality in America’s foundation and has been an oppressive force in our history and culture for over 400 years.
- Recognize and acknowledge the reality of white supremacy and white privilege as a part of our American history and culture and of our United Methodist Church history and culture.
- Invite white people to acknowledge all the ways we are complicit with white supremacy, that we exalt our white privilege, and by default perpetuate harm to people of color.
- Acknowledge the need for white people to repent of our misuse of our power and privileges and begin the work of dismantling racism and building a just and equitable kingdom of God.
- Walk alongside minority communities to understand more deeply their pain and the injustices present in our society and in our institutions.
- Pray for our leaders and for those charged with our safety and protection, especially during this time of transition.
- Pray for the incoming administration, including the preparation for the Inauguration on January 20.
- Pray for us to have the will and the courage to work together to dismantle systemic racism present in our churches and in our communities.
- Pray for peace, hope, and love among the people in our land.
One of the phrases that Bishop Carter has repeated over and over, both in written and in spoken word, that rings true in our ears is this: “Antiracism is discipleship. Antiracism is sanctification. Antiracism and our baptismal promises.”
“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19
Grace and Peace,
Florida Conference Appointive Cabinet