Bishop Sharma Lewis issued a call to action against systemic racism, May 29, 2020. She wrote, “On Memorial Day, when the world was honoring and remembering all military men and women for their sacrifice to this country, Mr. George Floyd, another African-American man, while handcuffed and in police custody, was pleading for his life. His dying statement, ‘I can’t breathe,’ rings again in my ears just as it did in 2014 when Eric Garner used those same words as he was dying from being held in a chokehold by a New York Police Department officer. As I have reflected since Monday, I find my emotions range from sadness to anger to disbelief. I ask myself the simple questions – ‘How long, Lord? How long, Lord?'”
Please visit this page for updates on prayers, op-eds, action items, and videos.
- Black pastor leads his white North Carolina church toward a fuller reckoning on race. More…
- North Texas Conference backs replacing Cross and Flame. More…
- Virginians Speak, Aug. 11, 2020, Livestream with Bishop Sharma Lewis and Attorney General Mark Herring
- DNA of Good Neighboring, by Michelle Hettmann, who recently graduated from Candler School of Theology with her MDiv and is a certified candidate in the Virginia Conference on the path to become an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church.
- United Methodists Stand Against Racism – Resources, prayers and actions
- Racial Justice Conversation Guide from the General Commission on Religion and Race (pdf)
- Join the Prayer Wall for Social Justice on Facebook
- Questions and Answers from the Social Principles (pdf) – As part on an ongoing effort to inform all of our beloved conference members and friends of our denominational stance on equality, fairness and justice for all people, the information in the link is presented in Question and Answer format.
- Devotions from a Native American view, by Larry Jent
- The Cross and Flame – A Symbol of Unity and Love
When is the last time you had a conversation about race with a person of another race?
Service of Repentance and Recommitment to Anti-racism
Campus ministries around the Virginia Conference conducted this service on April 13, 2022, to acknowledge the continuing work of anti-racism within the Virginia Conference. This video also highlights the upcoming anniversary of the writing of “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” an open letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in April of 1963.
You are invited to sign a Statement of Confession and Commitment written by the Rev. Max Blalock, Wesley Foundation Director at William and Mary (with input from other campus ministers and chaplains from across the Virginia Conference)
Celebrating Black History Month 2022
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” (Hymn 519) has held a powerful significance in African-American History. Known as the Black National Anthem, it’s a song about freedom, endurance, suffering, and joy! It paints the story of victory and liberty for the African- American people. “Composed in the 20th century; James Weldon Johnson was associated with the Harlem Renaissance movement, which did much to preserve, encourage, and instill the finest examples of African-American artistic efforts in the minds of the American people. Although “Lift Every Voice and Sing” bears special meaning for African-Americans, it profoundly evokes images of hope and faith with which all who love freedom readily can identify.”
The Rev. Debi Straughter compiled a history of the anthem as part of the Bishop’s Workgroup on Race and Reconciliation. It may be found HERE
Sawubona, we see you | Roche Mamabolo | TEDxMahikeng
There’s more to sawubona—the ancient Zulu greeting meaning we see you—than meets the eye. The greeting recognizes that each individual is never alone – that we each represent a lineage of multitudes. The greeting also serves to acknowledge the next person’s existence, and is an invitation to communicate and explore possibilities. In this talk, Roche makes the point that when we don’t see each other, we are unlikely to appreciate each other. But what does this mean? Roche explores this question, and connects the answers to an important business principle in a compelling and surprising way.
Ted Talks on Racial Justice and Reconciliation
This list of Ted Talks was compiled by Andrew Kissell. They explore everything from implicit bias, to cancel culture, to a humorous look at deconstructing racism. Please consider these as a great starting point for education and in-depth discussions.
Diversity Kitchen – Korean Lunar New Year
Join Martha Stokes, the Rev. Dan Kim, and the Rev. Hung Su Lim as they cook TTeok Guk. While they cook, they explore Korean culture and the traditions of Lunar New Year.
Virtual Prayer Vigil, March 29, 2021
The Bishop’s Work Group on Racial Reconciliation and Justice hosted a Virtual Prayer Vigil, March 29, following the murder of Asian women in Atlanta, and the shooting of people in a Boulder, Col., grocery store. l, hosted by the Call to Action Work Group of the Virginia Annual Conference. The vigil was shared for all to join in the call of prayer for healing, as we experience the tragedy in this nation and a call to pray. Let us see the power of the Holy Spirit connecting us, as we join in the movement of change!
I Have a Dream:
Can the Dream Become a Vision and Stop Being a Nightmare?
Celebrating the end of Black History Month with a conversation between VAUMC clergy about the I Have a Dream essay written by the Rev. James Page. Soon to be on Spotify and Apple Podcast.
The Rev. Nickie Moreno Howard, host; the Rev. James Page and the Rev. DeLishia Davis, speakers.
Diversity Kitchen – Watch Night
Join Virginia Conference Lay Leader Martha Stokes and the Rev. Debi Straughter as they cook greens and have a conversation about what Watch Night is.
Race Relations Videos and Curriculum
On May 29, 2020, Bishop Sharma Lewis asked the question, “When do we as children of God in the second largest annual conference in The United Methodist connection decide to have the crucial conversations and examine our own experiential and inherited stories of race and racism?” The Race and Race Relations Subgroup of the Bishop’s Cabinet began work to help answer that question.
The Virginia Roots, Race, and Discipleship curriculum is a first step to address racism in the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This series includes videos and interviews that acknowledge and document Virginia’s role in forming and continuing race prejudice and racial discrimination embedded in law, customs, and institutions, including the Church
This resource is a work in progress with three sessions currently with more to come in the next few months. The resource includes a participant’s guide, facilitator’s notes, a one-minute introductory video for each episode, and 12-14 videos when completed. The small group study encourages participants to listen, learn, and engage in healthy dialogue about history, race, and discipleship. The goal is for all clergy and laity to acknowledge racism as a sin and take action to dismantle racism in our families, houses of worship, our community, and the workplace.
Tuesday Talks: White Supremacy is Sin
The Rev. Jason Stanley is the coordinator of Church Revitalization, Elizabeth River District. He talks with the Rev. Lindsey Baynham, conference director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, on the topic “White Supremacy is Sin.”
You may also view the video on Jason Stanley’s blog site at https://jasoncstanley.com and subscribe to his newsletter.
The direct link to this video on his site is https://jasoncstanley.com/tuesday-talks-white-supremacy-is-sin/
Pastor’s granddaughter’s video spotlighting black students goes viral with powerful messages
Kate Gharib is the granddaughter of the Rev. William Richard “Bill” Fisher. Bill passed away April 16, 2020. Bill’s wife, Barbara, shared this story with the conference office for us to share with you. Please take a moment to watch this inspiring piece produced by Kate.
A Prayer for Racial Justice and Reconciliation from the AAMA
As a community of faith, Asian American Ministers Association (AAMA) wants to respond to the call to action on systemic racism and joins in the prayer for racial justice and reconciliation. May God continue to work in and through us that we may fully reflect God’s grace and actively participate in God’s justice.
Click here to view video of prayer.
A Daily Prayer for Racial Justice and Reconciliation
(The following prayer is offered by the Bishop’s Work Group on Racial Justice and Reconciliation. You are encouraged to pray the prayer daily)
O loving God,
We give you thanks for creating the world which is full of diversity and for making one human family of all the peoples of the earth.
You reign over all the nations and are seated on your holy throne.
You rule over all the peoples without partiality in respect to nations or races because righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Forgive us for the times when we put walls around us with false pride and racial prejudice.
Forgive us for the times when we were silent in the face of racism, private or institutional.
Open our eyes to see Christ who is in people of every nation and every culture.
Break down the walls that separate us. Set us free from fear, hatred and racism.
Bind us together with the unity of God’s love. Restore oneness to the family of God.
We pray in the name of Jesus who came, lived and died for all humanity.