“A cry was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning Rachel weeps for her children,
Refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.”
SENIOR BISHOPS OF THE 3 BLACK METHODIST CHURCHES DECRY THE SENSELESS ASSASSINATIONS OF BLACK SONS AND DAUGHTERS AND DEMAND JUSTICE
WASHINGTON, DC (June 2, 2020) — Senior Bishops of Black Methodist United (BMU), who represent three major Methodist denominations, issued the following statement about the merciless killings of Black sons and daughters:
Each year on the last Monday in May, our nation, the United States of America, pauses to honor and mourn the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces to safeguard the liberties we often take for granted. As we pay tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives to protect the constitutional preamble, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” we find ourselves faced with another painful and pathetic paradox.
As a community of faith, our hearts are heavy as we remember the loss of our melanic sons and daughters, who die at the hands of unjust vitriolic people, who apparently kill them as if it is a sport. We refuse to sit in silence, or cry out from sectarian silos, regarding our pain and displeasure and remain idle, during this sadistic season. We echo the sentiments of the biblical Rachel of Ramah, “weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because the children are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)
The collective wailing of women of color has created an unenviable sorority of mothers who have lost sons to the violence of white men. Those who are uninformed often ask, “Where is the Church in times like these? We are here as we have always been on the front lines fighting for the rights of people in civil society. We were in Selma, Birmingham, Ferguson, Bladenboro, and Sanford. There is no need to list the States, because it is any state in America.
The roll is rapidly becoming an innumerable caravan proceeding steadily towards the mysterious realm where no travel has yet been born. In the words of African Methodist Episcopal Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, “here we go again!” As we weep and mourn the death of our 25 year old son, Ahmaud Arbery, who was mercilessly murdered in Georgia by three white men, a father and son, along with another who had the audacity to record this dastardly and despicable deed of death, we are now confronted with the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a 47 year-old father, brother and son, was ruthlessly murdered at the hands of four white police officers in Minneapolis.
Long before the death of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, however, we were mourning the murders of a number of our sons and daughters across the nation, to name a few: Corey Patton, also killed in Georgia;
Sean Reed, Sandra Bland, Lennon Lacy, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner Breonna Taylor, all murdered. Lives which are valued less than a canine. We continue to mourn the souls separated from the bodies at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston.
Frustration, anguish, hurt, despair and extreme outrage being played out in major cities throughout the nation have passed the tipping point. The naked realities and atrocities which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement six years ago has hit again as white policemen commit outright murder witnessed by all.
From the streets of Minneapolis, where Mr. George Floyd went limp after a police officer jammed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, to the front steps of the White House to the hundreds of protestors who besieged cities like Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, America is once again faced with and haunted by its shameful history of systemic racism. America is confronted with its human brokenness and disgraceful past. The voices of a hurting people demand to be heard.
“In the final analysis, the riot is the language of the unheard. What is it that America has failed to hear?” Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr questioned. “In a sense, our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our winter’s delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these occurrences of riots and violence over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
When is American going to act responsibly and respond to the more than 200 years of compounded racism against black people? Racism remains America’s original sin.
As episcopates and clerics from across the spectrum of Black Methodism, we must continue with the wisdom and courage of Rachel as she refused to be comforted. We are raising our voices in righteous indignation and our anger in the midst of mourning as a reaction to the mistreatment of our children and community. We are calling on other people of conscience and faith to join us as we ignite a sustained fire in opposition to this scourge of senseless killings, depleting us of our most valuable treasures. As we care for ourselves and our community, in times of mourning there is power in our voice. If we do not speak, we will not be heard. If we, however, courageously unite our voices in righteous indignation we will act as agents of transformation, in the midst of injustice. We, therefore:
- Call on other people of faith, Congress of National Black Churches (CNBC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The National African American Clergy Network (NAACN), The National Urban League, The Divine Nine and other faith-based, civic and social organizations to unite with us in demanding District Attorneys, in each case, to charge the perpetrators with first degree murder. We refuse to be placated with a lesser charge.
- Demand The United States Congress to pass laws to eliminate the proliferation of guns throughout our Nation.
- Demand the United States Department of Justice to develop and implement policing policies and training procedures to address and mitigate the lack of proper field supervision amongst all law enforcement agencies; the use of appropriate, non-lethal restraint techniques; the ability to detect and initially assess signs of mental illness and/or trauma; and the ability to recognize medical signs associated with the restriction of airflow, and the legal duty to seek emergency medical care with all potential suspects.
- Call all people of goodwill and faith to pervasive and perpetual prayer for the families of each victim, the perpetrators, law enforcement, branches of government, and entire nation.
We will not rest until, in the words of the Prophet Amos, “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!”
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BACKGROUND: The Black Methodist United (BMU), a global assembly of the three historic African Methodist communions headed by senior bishops of each, is comprised of The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. BMU is committed to addressing issues of social injustice in America.
According to the World Council of Churches, the three denominations represent more than 4.76 million members in the U.S. There are fifty active Bishops among the 13,726 congregations.
For more information about the Call to Action, please contact Bishop Staccato Powell, Convener of Black Methodist United (BMU) at Staccato4zion@mail.com.
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