July 8, 2016

Dear Friends, Servants of the Christ,

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” Romans 12:2 

If you have been watching and listening to the news, you hear of all the violence and loss of life that occurs in the world and in our nation and communities. This past week we learned of the loss of life as a result of police officers killing two black men and the concerns about the frequencies of these occurrences. Later in the week, on Thursday night as peaceful protestors marched the streets, calling for an end to violence and killings, more horrific violence occurred. The news on Friday morning reported that 12 police officers had been shot, five killed and at least two pedestrians wounded by snipers, in Dallas.

Life is a gift of our Creator, meant to be lived in fruitful and meaningful ways, not to be taken by acts of hatred and violence. These horrible acts and the many others that result from gun violence and racial conflict cannot continue in a civilized nation. This is not God’s way or God’s will for our human community. We, as Christians and the Church, must speak out and act against such madness. We are challenged to do and act with moral authority to denounce such acts of violence and change the environment that threatens our well-being and that of generations to come. Our children’s generation may be subjected to the burden of our errors, indifference and failure to act and transform our society.

We are called as Christian to be transformed and transforming, to develop a new consciousness, as Rev. Dr. James Forbes stated at our Conference Annual Celebration 18 months ago, and to be about a “revolution of values.” Even in the context of our church communities, we must accept the challenge to learn to love the other enough to take up his/her (their) plight, regardless of class, race, gender, sexual preference, no matter the distinguishing characteristics — learn to love one another. This new consciousness must enable us to see the institutionalized violence afflicted on others and ourselves through acts of separation, oppression, ghettoization, criminalizing and racism. This new consciousness must lead us to confessing our complicity and our own sins of injustice, often pointing to the victim and laying blame for what is imposed on them as forms of oppression. Until we are willing to admit our complicity and to be transformed and transforming by the renewal of our own minds, we will continue to participate in institutionalized violence.

PrayerI invite all of us, this coming Sunday, as we are in communion with God, to pause and hold in prayer the police officers who fell victim to snipers; pray for their families and loved ones; pray for those struggling to stay alive after being shot. Pray also for those children who leave their homes for school or play and are at risk of being killed — not allowed to grow. Pray for their parents and the uncertainty and great stress they bear. Let us pray for those who have lost their lives as a result of being murdered by police officers. Let us pray for ourselves and our nation that we may live by the values and ideals that help define who we are as people and as a people of faith.

And may the LORD make his face to shine upon you/us and be gracious to you/us; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you/us and give you/us peace. Num. 6:25-26 

Rev. Dr. Jorge L. Morales

Conference Minister

Source: Letter from Illinois Conference Minister [PDF]

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