Dear Sugarbush family and friends,
I hope that you're doing well.
On our last Saturday worship service before our month long break, we talked about leadership and service. We were encouraged to dig deep, to challenge ourselves by serving in a new area or to commit to continuing to serve in a ministry. That Saturday we were asked to be leaders in this church.
But while we think about our own community of faith and the things that we need to do to keep it running and welcoming, we also need to think about how we can be leaders in the wider community and how we can show "Divine Love-lived" through our words, actions, and lives.
The white supremacist/white nationalist/neo-confederate/neo-nazi protests,the anti-racist/anti-fascist counter-protests, violence and fatalities in Charlottesville, Virginia and the hate-speech graffiti on a multicultural church right here in Guelph show that there is hate, fear, and oppression in so many places, both above and right below the surface. But like Rev William Barber said last year, “...there are some issues that are not Left versus Right, Liberal versus Conservative, they are 'right versus wrong.'"
Unfortunately, too many church leaders have either excused these protests and the violence that it incites as free speech or have simply been silent on this issue. But silence is complicity and we cannot be silent on this issue. Our church is anti-racist and pro-reconciling. Our church believes that all are welcome to the table. So, in loud, clear, and unequivocal terms this is our stand:
Racism is sin. White supremacy is sin. Neo-Nazism and "Alt-Right"ism is sin. Hate speech is sin. Intentionally driving a car into a crowd of people is sin.
Paul wrote the words "do not grow weary of doing what is good" to the Galatians (6:9) and this might speak to a lot of us right now who are weary. But know that if this is how we feel, there are those who are more weary and we cannot burden them with dismantling this hate, fear, and oppression alone.
So, let's pray together for the victims of this hate, fear, and oppression, for those who died and were injured, for advocates of peace and justice, and for all of us ordinary people.
Let's pray...and then let's do something in response to this prayer! Let's read about what's happening in our communities and in other communities, what's happening to other people even if, and especially if, it doesn't directly affect us. Let's volunteer and/or donate to a local solidarity, anti-hate group. Let's stand up for one another. Let's raise our voices against white supremacy. Let's hold ourselves, our family and friends accountable for the racist things they say and do. And let's do all of this together out of love for God and all of our neighbours.
This is not just something that we should do because it's nice, it's what's required of us as people of faith: "to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).
Below, I've included a few articles to read regarding the Charlottesville riots, nazism, and the hate crime in Guelph.
Thank you for your time, prayers, and leadership in this community!
- Pastor Awit