A Pastoral Letter to a United Church in a Divided Country
November 09, 2016
"United in Spirit, and inspired by God's grace, we love all, welcome all, and seek justice for all." Just three weeks ago, the United Church of Christ Board affirmed this as the Mission of the United Church of Christ. This morning, we wake up to a new reality. Our country and its citizens once again successfully elected a new leader. As we gather to worship this weekend, we will find among us many who are celebrating the decision that was reached – and many who are mourning it. We are, by all measures, a deeply divided people.
Because this election sharply separated us over matters of race, gender, human sexuality, faith, economic inequality and political persuasions we all bear a heavy burden moving forward. It is our call, our shared mission, to heed the call of God's Spirit and to work to repair damages in our deeply wounded and fiercely broken body.
Mr. Trump was able to win this election in spite of clear evidence from him of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and Islamaphobia. This was so blatant that many of his own party's leaders could not endorse him. Many who voted for him knew this, and yet their fears about what is happening in their lives overrode their distaste for his bombast. In their search for a leader not connected to the power base of a government that has been perceived as corrupt, inefficient, and out of touch - his populist rhetoric appealed to them. He must now lead a country where people of color, women, Muslims, immigrants, the disabled, and an LGBT community all feel the sting and impact of his public speech.
But as the United Church of Christ, we will live into our Vision:
"United in Christ's love, a just world for all."
Dear United Church of Christ, we were built to heal bodies broken and divided. This is our calling. Our core values of love, hospitality, and justice for all must be fully embraced in the days to come. It could well be that we were called into being for just such a time as this.
We, the Officers and Council of Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ, call upon the church to seek a pathway that envisions a just world for all. Those who celebrate this election must show a humility that honors the pain of those whose dreams were dashed by the outcome. Those who grieve must find a courage and hope found in a faith not in earthly power, but in the redemptive love of our Risen Christ.
It is with this humility and faith that we can fulfill our mission: to build a just world for all. We stand in the face of fear and hate and proclaim that "love wins!" We rise up and respond to public derision of "the other" with a full embrace of and warm welcome for all God's beautiful children. We confront the injustices of the powerful with a steady drumbeat of justice.
It seems appropriate to remember the words of the civil rights activist and song-writer James Weldon Johnson:
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray…. Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand, True to our God, true to our native land. We now must stand, true to our God and true to our native land. Let what we do in this time help both America and our denomination become what each name aspires to: A UNITED States of America and a UNITED Church of Christ. And may it be our love of, our welcome to, and our justice for all that unites us.
The United Church of Christ National Officers:
The Rev. John C. Dorhauer General Minister and President The Rev. Traci Blackmon Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. James Moos Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries The Council of Conference Ministers of the United Church of Christ