Devotionals
Worship Service begins at 10:30 AM
Third & Adams Street, PO Box 9774, Moscow, Idaho USA | (208) 882-3715

Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - June 10, 2020

Friends,
It has been an incredible couple of weeks. I know there are lots of positions on racism, race-based violence, and how we address it in our society. And I know we are not all on the same page. I've thought a lot about how I might address it with our congregation and admit I am still winding my way through it. I'm sure at some point I will share some of my personal stories and ways I've had to confront racism in my own thoughts and life. But, for starters, I thought I would share a bit about the UMC and its history and stance.

First, the UMC has clear positions about racism (as well as just about every other societal and global issue). Some of those can be found in the Social Principles of the Book of Discipline, some are expressed more explicitly with a call to action or change found in the Book of Resolutions. Many of those can be searched easily online, others can be found in the books themselves (which I'm always happy to loan out).

And...despite our current positions, we have a messy history in race relations. Long before we were the UMC, we were simply the Methodist Church. And in the Methodist Church of the 1800s, we had bishops who owned slaves and churches that required black folks to sit separately in the balcony. There were a variety of issues that came to a head around the Civil War, but part of what we saw in the church was divisions about those injustices. Some of which led to new denominations. The UMC has many "cousins" including the AME, AME Zion, and CME churches all of which broke off at different times for somewhat different reasons mostly relating to race relations. Later the UMC split into UMC North (Union supported) and UMC South (confederate support) only to come back together decades later.

That's the long way (though abbreviated in all the details) of saying, we are part of an imperfect church with an imperfect history, including racial exclusion and unjust policy and practices. We are also not new to different views being held within the same church.

We have tried to be intentional about how we do the work of the church in ways that do value all persons equally, though we certainly still have a long way to go. The structure of the denomination was originally designed for the US. Even though the church has grown to be a global denomination (and one of the largest), our structure didn't change with our global expansion. So we still have issues with figuring out how to be a global church with integrity. This includes valuing different cultures, values, and ways of being equal with what you find in the US (even recognizing that we don't have one single way of doing church).

One of our General Commissions (aka big committees with a particular focus) is the General Commission on Race and Religion (GCORR). This group helps identify racial injustices and help us move forward. They have some great studies and resources for growing in faith and knowledge in these areas. We are considering using one of their studies this summer for anyone interested. The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) works a lot on issues related to policy. They are housed in the only religious building on Capitol Hill and lobby to change policy to be more just across the nation and around the world. If you search "race" on their site, you'll see articles past and present related to racial justice. This is not a new issue for our denomination.

As a denomination, we don't require ascription to our church's positions--not in theology or social issues. If you aren't 100% in agreement with what you find here, please know that's ok. We are all on a journey. But I do hope you know that our denomination has been working on issues of equality and justice for centuries. These are not new priorities. Many of the reasons I choose to be a part of the UMC is because of its commitment to changing the world to be more representative of the kingdom of God here on earth--one where everyone has access to clean water, food, and education, one where people are given the opportunity to be their best selves without constantly battling discrimination and mistreatment.

The church is still working toward justice. Our Council of Bishops put out a statement this week denouncing racism and asking for us to work toward a better future. Various annual conferences have been speaking out and hosting webinars and discussions to help us all hear from our siblings of color. One thing I hope we can see is that racism is not something that will be cured with just a few simple actions. It must become a commitment of social health for the long haul if we truly want things to be different in the future.

I hope you know that I am always open to dialogue. And I am a work in progress myself. I am still learning. I still fail, and still, have to try and redeem myself when I do.

I do believe in the God of redemption. I believe God can help us change our ways so that we are better as a community and as a country. So as I keep learning, I also keep praying, and I hope you will too.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

p.s. Miles Sutton has put together an online piano recital as a blessing to our church as he prepares to move to Chicago. We pre-recorded worship for the next two Sundays, so he'll still be with us for those Sundays. It will post at 4 pm today. To watch/listen to the recital, please visit www.facebook.com/moscowfirstumc It is recorded, so you can watch/listen at any time that is convenient.

 

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

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Moscow, ID 83843

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