We, the Bishop and Cabinet of the Holston Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, are appalled at the January 6th assault on the Capitol, Legislators, and the attempt to unravel the fiber of our democracy. As a church and as Christian disciples, we must strive to embody the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must follow the guidance of the Prophets and speak truth against sin.
We call upon all Christians to remember their baptismal vows to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin, to accept the power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Wickedness was evident in hate, racism, self-absorption, and abuse of power. The insurrectionists built gallows, and marched with Confederate battle flags, crosses, Jesus Saves banners, guns and bombs. They shouted “Hang Mike Pence!”, “Where’s Nancy?”, and “I want my country back.”
This behavior is not what God expects from God’s followers. This behavior does not look anything like the call we find in Micah 6:8:
“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.”
This behavior does not fulfill the greatest commandment to:
“‘Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" – Luke 10:27
To fulfill these scriptures, we must work together without violence and hate. We must be willing to lay down power in order to allow everyone to have a voice. We must close our mouths and open our ears in order to hear what is said by those of a different race, different political party, and different religious belief. This does not mean we will always agree, but we cannot allow our personal beliefs and self-serving desire to come between God’s call and commandments that are before us.
Racism, in this country, is our original sin, and it is something we have yet to confront and transform. Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, there were both peaceful protests and some riots supporting the Black Lives Matters movement. The response of the authorities to these gatherings was handled differently than at the insurrection on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021.
We have a long way to go in order to fulfill God’s call and commandments, but we will never get there if we don’t start changing now. On Monday, January 18 we will remember and celebrate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He spent and gave his life working to tear down the walls of darkness and to create a world where all people flourish. Unfortunately, it is a darkness that still exists today. As we process the recent events, as we pray for a peaceful transfer of power, and as we work to make the world a better place, may this prayer from Dr. King permeate our lives and give us strength to do the right thing:
“God grant that right here in America and all over this world, we will choose the high way; a way in which [humanity] will live together as [family]. A way in which the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. A way in which every [person] will respect the dignity and worth of all human personality. A way in which every nation will allow justice to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. A way in which [people] will do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. A way in which [people] will be able to stand up, and in the midst of oppression, in the midst of darkness and agony, they will be able to stand there and love their enemies, bless those persons that curse them, pray for those individuals that despitefully use them. And this is the way that will bring us once more into that society which we think of as the [fellowship of humanity]. This will be that day when white people, colored people, whether they are brown or whether they are yellow or whether they are black, will join together and stretch out with their arms and be able to cry out; ‘Free at last! Free at last! Great God Almighty, we are free at last!’” Amen.
Mary Virginia Taylor
Lori L. Sluder
Jeffrey W. Wright
Jane E. Taylor
Angela Hardy Cross
Kimberly M. Goddard
Reed L. Shell, Jr.
Jason N. Gattis, Sr.
Ann P. Robins
Lauri Jo Cranford
Extended Cabinet Members
Terry D. Goodman
Timothy W. Jones, Jr.
James Russell Taylor
Michael G. Sluder
Paul J. Bowman
F. Richard Cherry
Capitol photo courtesy of Eric Vega.
Dr. King photo courtesy of Unseen Histories.