Browse posts tag by justice
DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

DOING JUSTICE IN AN UNJUST WORLD

May 11, 2020 By dwayman

Superintendent Charles Latchison of the Free Methodist Church in Southern California (FMCSC) writes this as both a personal and pastoral response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging near his home.

Supt. Latchison writes:

“In the midst of this quarantine, with all of the new challenges and new realities around us, it almost seems unthinkable that the world ‘out there’ continues. In that world, we continue to see the reality that injustice continues not just afar but in our nation, states, counties, and cities.

On February 23, 2020, a young Black Man named Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by three men (Gregory and Travis McMichael, the men who shot him, and William Bryan who perversely filmed the incident) who believed they had the right to deprive him of his life and right to due process simply because they believed he was involved in robberies in their neighborhood. This is frustrating and heartbreaking.

We know during this pandemic that people have lost jobs, lost loved ones to this virus, and are afraid of our new realities. We also know that even during this time racism is not only alive but thriving. Ahmaud is not the only Black Man murdered in our country in the past couple of weeks and racist actions towards the Asian / Asian American communities have increased rapidly as well. Our personal worlds might feel like they have come to a halt during this shelter-in-place but fear and anger have continued to move forward.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE:  Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

September 10, 2019 By dwayman

By Rev. David Thompson

Rev. David Thompson is a retired Elder in the North Central Conference of the Free Methodist Church, a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain and mental health counselor, and former Superintendent of the former Minn-I-Kota Conference. One of his sons is one of the 70 million Americans with a record, for a decade-old misdemeanor that has been a barrier for meaningful employment, housing and credit for the past eight years. Only recently was he offered, as a veteran who served seven years on active duty, a second chance in employment with a good job with the VA to help other veterans like himself, get on their feet after suffering wounds of mind, body, and spirit in war- time service.

Supt. Thompson presents an important and profound call on all of us as compassionate Christians who ourselves live by God’s restorative mercy.

Introduction:

Anytime one starts talking about restorative justice in a world where revenge and punishment are often the normal response for offenses against persons and society, it is to venture into controversial waters.

I am deeply sensitive to the pain and grief that is visited upon victims of crime and the challenge to forgive, feel safe, and rebuild trust that has been lost. This is no small task of mind and spirit requiring sometimes years of counsel and support from friends and caring clinicians. It takes a real touch from the Lord to help many move on in life after such a trauma and not remain captured by fear and anger.

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

May 21, 2019 By dwayman

The work of a pastor is complex and multilayered.  From the care of individual Christians, to the care of a congregation, to the care of a community, pastors are responsible not only to assist people in their own spiritual growth but to assist individuals, congregations and communities to pursue justice.   Speaking on behalf of God the prophet Micah states:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Knowing how to act justly and to love mercy, Superintendents Michael Traylor and Mark Adams have written a primer for our pastors.  They define their purpose as:

“This primer seeks to provide brief guidelines for pastors and church leaders who seek to proclaim biblical truth, represent the needs of their congregation and community, becoming fully engaged as salt and light on earth while grasping the great truth that our citizenship is in heaven and our allegiance first and foremost to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this primer you will find a brief framework in which to 1) understand advocacy in a contentious time, 2) view various legitimate but often competing moral advocacy views, 3) remember the Free Methodist story of advocacy and action borne of a passion to be more like Jesus, and 4) specific guidelines for advocacy that will keep you in the fight but above water, undergirded by the victory of Jesus Christ.”

They further explain:

“Free Methodists operate in a connection of congregations that is ethnically,

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY?  1852

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY? 1852

July 5, 2018 By

In 1852 in Rochester, NY where the Free Methodist Church would organize eight years later stating that a primary purpose of this new “FREE” Methodist church is the the abolition of slavery, the  former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglas gave a speech on the 4th of July that is still sadly relevant today.  It is helpful to hear the first-person testimony of those who have and are suffering the prejudice that betrays our nation’s claims of independence for all who are endowed by their Creator with equal, unalienable rights.  This seven minute video is an important reminder of the ongoing work of the FMC in these United States of America.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

REAL MEN SHIELD THE DEFENSELESS AND PROTECT FAMILIES

REAL MEN SHIELD THE DEFENSELESS AND PROTECT FAMILIES

June 29, 2018 By

We often hear our culture remind men to protect their own family.  Here Mark Adams, Superintendent of the Sierra Pacific Conference of the Free Methodist Church, reminds us that Christians protect and care for all families, not only his own.  Written for Father’s Day it speaks to men, however the message is for all Christians, men and women.

Supt. Mark Adams

June, 2018

Today is Father’s Day.  I am so proud of all four of my sons.  They are Lars, Jake, Alex and Felix.  Each are young men with sharp minds, quick wits, compassionate hearts and willing to sacrifice much to benefit others.  Three are fathers themselves, and really great dads at that!  I could not be a happier dad.  So, sons, remember – real men shield the defenseless and protect families.

Consequently, I must say something about the current American implementation of a policy to tear apart families as an immigration deterrent.  I am disheartened as a Christian father that the policy is being defended by national spokespersons (Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders) through biblical texts.  On a personal identity level (I have identified as an “evangelical Christian”) I am dismayed that over the past few years it seems that evangelical Christianity as a whole is becoming enmeshed with a political agenda that places nationalistic views ahead global Christian concerns, even promoting initiatives that seem to dehumanize others.

THE LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

THE LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 16, 2018 By

One of the most powerful statements on the church’s responsibility to work for “justice for all” was written by a Baptist pastor named the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It happened in 1963.

In part he says:

“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation…

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

SPU THEOLOGIANS’ COMMITMENT ENDING RACISM

SPU THEOLOGIANS’ COMMITMENT ENDING RACISM

September 27, 2017 By

We rely on our Free Methodist Universities to provide wisdom and guidance to our denomination.  The religion department of our university in Seattle, Seattle Pacific University has done just that in this statement.  This has been affirmed by our Free Methodist Schools of Theology of our Universities:

The Statement on Racial Justice has been signed by the Theology faculty of five Free Methodist schools:

School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University and Seminary
School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University and Seminary
Bastian School of Theology at Greenville University
School of Theology at Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary
Department of Theology at Spring Arbor University

In cooperation with SPU’s John Perkins Center and Office of University Ministries our theologians give this guidance:

Statement of Solidarity and Commitment to Action

As Christian leaders, we commit ourselves to the call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to stand with those who experience discrimination and racism.  We commit ourselves to challenge expressions of racism occurring in various institutions of our nation, such as law enforcement, the legal system, the educational system, political structures, and the Church.

We repent for the ways Christians have been and still are complicit participants in these injustices.  In light of our history and recent events in our nation, we believe it is necessary to reaffirm our commitment to reject ethnic nationalism, injustice, and violence.

We thank God for all who pursue Biblical justice,

UNPACKING PRIVILEGE

UNPACKING PRIVILEGE

August 13, 2017 By

Understanding privilege is far more difficult for those for whom it is a daily experience.  This causes systems, (church, economic, justice, social, educational) to remain systemically unjust.  Thus when those without privilege step up and ask for justice, the privileged feel threatened or displaced.

It is not enough to just understand privilege but to also be those who “seek justice” for all.  That is not only a deeply Christian value but a human one.  As Free Methodists our commitment is stated in our Ordination Vow when we say we are “insistent for justice”:  Rooted in a deep love for Christ and sharing His compassion for people, Free Methodist elders help create congregations that are fervent in prayer, enthusiastic in worship, holy in lifestyle, insistent for justice, caring for the poor, and reaching out locally and globally to bring all people into relationship with Jesus Christ.

To help everyone have a common language here is an article post on the conversation-empowering website National Seed Project.  This was written in 1989 as we were just beginning to understand the dynamics.  Much progress has been made since then.

It says in part:

As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege,

BT Roberts OPEN OPPOSITION TO ALL WRONG and INJUSTICE

BT Roberts OPEN OPPOSITION TO ALL WRONG and INJUSTICE

April 5, 2017 By

In 1860 our Free Methodist founder, Benjamin Titus Roberts, wrote in the April EARNEST CHRISTIAN that:

Open opposition to all wrong and injustice is another element of Scriptural righteousness. Many who will not do wrong themselves will countenance it, at least indirectly, in others. This is usually the first step in a loss of virtue. They who, for the sake of party interest, personal relationship, or any other cause, is silent when they should reprove, will soon apologize for, then justify, then approve, and, if occasion serves, perpetuate the wrong from which, at first, their moral sensibilities revolted. 

Often as we live our blessed lives due to Christ’s work in us, we can live in that blessing without speaking out against the injustice and wrong so prevalent in our day.  These convicting words, written 157 years ago, remind us that Christ calls  us to an active participation in bringing justice and mercy to our world.

Our 2015 Free Methodist Book of Discipline says it this way:

¶3221       Worth of Persons

We are committed to the worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, color, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The  Old  Testament  law  commands  such  respect  (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).