Dear West Virginia Annual Conference Members,
It is my pleasure and privilege to serve as your Conference Lay Leader. I pray you are safe and well during these unusual days of a global pandemic. In fact, I write to you today to share a letter from the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders (AACLL) that speaks of a current “dual pandemic” (see link below).
We are in the midst of responding to and dealing with COVID-19, of course, but we have also recently witnessed a rise in racial tensions throughout our nation. Both have caused me to pause and refocus on my personal values and how I practice faith in action.
Please allow me to share a recent personal experience with you. A surprising silver lining that came as a result of the pandemic was an opportunity for me to work with a summer intern at the Upshur Parish House in Buckhannon. Sean is now a junior in college who is studying at home as his courses are offered only online.
As we worked together over the past few months, our conversations often drifted to current events. I mentioned a desire to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and Sean offered to also read it. What followed was an introspective discussion about the book and our reaction to it and to racism in general. The book gave me new perspective and my conversations with Sean provided interesting insight, much of which I had not previously considered.
I see non-white brothers and sisters in Christ hurting. As followers of Christ and as United Methodists we are called to “recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons,… [and to] commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access” (from The Social Principles).
I invite you to join me in learning more about injustice and oppression. I invite you to have conversations with your church family, pastor, district superintendent, family, and friends about racism. I invite you to read books such as White Fragility to discover more about the current tensions in our nation. And, I invite you to pray for all of the beloved children of God that suffer in the midst of this dual pandemic.
May we offer God’s grace to all.
Wishing you peace and blessings,
Conference Lay Leader
West Virginia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
“Called to Witness, Care, and Act: A Message for Laity in the UMC”