The picture you see included with these thoughts is a composite of the hands of children participating in our Sunday School Zoom class and the words they used to describe God’s community.
I love this picture for several reasons. I am so pleased that our Sunday School teachers have found a way to adapt to the pandemic and still reach out to our children. I am pleased they are helping the children to think about community. I am delighted to see the children’s answers.
God loves and welcomes all people. There is a truth that seems to simple and obvious that we can easily miss it. In this season of racial reckoning in our nation, we in the church are having to come to terms with the ways that, through history, the church has NOT lived out this truth. Our history as Methodists includes the moment when African Americans were told to pray in the balcony and were not welcomed in the main part of the sanctuary (1787) which led to the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1844 church split over the issue of slavery. When The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968, it was organized into Conferences that were mostly geographic, except for Central Conferences for racial groups like Native Americans, and Koreans. The Central Conferences were treated as second class to the other Conferences. We now must own up to the racism within our own church. As the children know, God loves and welcomes all people – and so must we.
“Include, Belong Together” say our children. They recognize that God’s community is one of inclusion and togetherness. We are working on this. Since last summer, various people have joined me in a study about racism. The composition of the group has ebbed and flowed according to people’s schedules and we have learned a lot about the racism that infects our souls and began in this country over 400 years ago. The Church Council has authorized a sub group to work on a statement of racial inclusion to be posted on this web site. That statement is in process and I hope it will make it’s appearance in another month or so. Our Youth (older than the children represented in this picture) are also working on a statement of racial inclusion. They give me hope.
God loves and welcomes all people. Include, Belong Together. Let’s keep these words before us as we work for a new future.