June 25-28, 2015, American Baptists from across the United States and Puerto Rico gathered for our Biennial Mission Summit in Kansas City. We were graced with prophetic preaching, and encouraged by the work and presence of other Baptist brothers and sisters. Coming on the heels of the murders of nine Christians as they gathered for a prayer meeting at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, many hearts returned to the original sin of our nation, racism. The following statement emerged from the gathering:
An Epistle of Metanoia
from the 2015 Mission Summit to the ABC-USA family:
In light of the sin of racism that has infected each and every part of our nation we, the gathered delegates and participants of the 2015 Mission Summit of the American Baptist Churches, USA, the most diverse Protestant body in our nation, grieve racism’s effects on our people. Therefore, we collectively speak against and repent of our participation in the sin of racism wherever it is found. The presence of white supremacy for too long has gone unacknowledged and prevented us from living as the body of Christ.
Between now and the 2017 Mission Summit we urge each ABC, USA congregation to covenant in order to seek justice & reconciliation, hold one another accountable in this endeavor, and pursue local incarnated manifestations of the Beloved Community.
Many of us signed on to the statement in person. You can also sign the online version here http://www.abc-usa.org/2015/07/01/an-epistle-of-metanoia-from-the-2015-mission-summit-to-the-abcusa-family/ The President of ABCUSA, Rev. Dr. Don Ng, read this letter before preaching the closing sermon of the event.
Underwood Church, you’ve long esteemed and lived as the Beloved Community. Opposing the pernicious effects of racism is a part of our church’s foundational narrative. How will you take this challenge further, to deepen your pursuit of racial justice? How will you covenant together to work towards reconciliation within and beyond the bounds of our community? Where is God calling each of you, individually, and all of us, collectively, to own our own shortcomings, to repent of our complicity in systemic racism, and to work to dismantle prejudice and other barriers to the full manifestation of the Beloved Community? I urge you to accept the challenge to go beyond your comfort zones, to peer into the hidden corners of your own heart, and to speak out, even if your voice quavers and your knees knock. We are in need of deep healing; may the church be the balm for the wounded and the conscience for the complicit. Amen.
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