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Dr. Pamela LightseyThe Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey
Unfortunately, The United Methodist Church has more to say about suicide, ebola, and education than it does about racism. But, er, uh, am I surprised? When it comes to fighting against LGBTQ rights, especially same-sex marriage, much has been and is discussed. What is happening in Ferguson should have a prominent place on our banner. But The UMC is SILENT. This is why I find it so strange that so many Black members of The UMC fall prey to the deception of oppression. If there is not an urgent support against racism then why would you allow yourselves to be used as puppets in the church's homophobic policies?
As I have been watching with utter dismay, the horrors occurring not only in Ferguson but in cities across America, I find myself with little tolerance for narratives depicting America as “the home of the free and the brave.” As an Army veteran and mother whose son served in Iraq, the militarization of police forces across America is frightening. It is as if I have been transported back to my younger self in the 60s. Black men carrying signs, “I AM A MAN,” police standing with german shepherds ready to attack protesters, deadly police brutality, police cover-ups, and talking heads speaking against “outsiders coming into our towns stirring things up.” I’ve been looking for a word from The UMC in the Missouri Conference or the Council of Bishops since Saturday. Hope. Comfort. Justice. What about a “holy conversation”? Nothing.
I would absolutely LOVE to hear about the monies our church is investing in ending this unfolding horror in Ferguson. I would LOVE to hear what steps we are taking in light of this crisis. Any national agenda? Surely local pastors are committed to ending this atrocity. Is there a word on the tragic death of Black UNARMED citizens? What about the right to life of these several Black folks?
We have much work to do when it comes to our involvement against racism in the world and IN OUR CHURCHES. Follow-up on your service of repentance. Showing what work is being done in Ferguson would be a great start.
Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey is an ordained elder of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church serving as Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning at Boston University School of Theology. This article is reprinted with permission from the Reconciling Ministries Network blog.