We are witnessing lament and outcry across this country and the world. We have seen the masses engage in peaceful protests, while the few perpetrate violence, riots, and looting. Reflecting upon recent actions and the growing unrest across our nation, we the Extended Cabinet of the Indiana Conference (Bishop Trimble, Conference Directors, and Conference Superintendents), collectively, speak out against all forms of racism and actions of violence. We are keenly aware that the senseless death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is another thread in a fabric of systematic racism that is pervasive in the culture of our land. We speak out to say we can do better, we MUST do better, and we WILL do better.
Additionally, we celebrate the bold witness of United Methodists across Indiana who have publicly responded and lived out the baptismal commitment of “Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?”
As our United Methodist Social Principles guide our understanding, it is stated: “Racism is the combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races and a value system that assumes that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism includes both personal and institutional racism. Personal racism is manifested through the individual expressions, attitudes, and/or behaviors that accept the assumptions of a racist value system and that maintain the benefits of this system. Institutional racism is the established social pattern that supports implicitly or explicitly the racist value system. Racism, manifested as sin, plagues and hinders our relationship with Christ, inasmuch as it is antithetical to the gospel itself. In many cultures white persons are granted unearned privileges and benefits that are denied to persons of color. Therefore, we recognize racism as sin and affirm the ultimate and temporal worth of all persons. We rejoice in the gifts that particular ethnic histories and cultures bring to our total life. We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access.” (The 2016 Book of Discipline ¶162.A- Rights of Racial and Ethnic Persons)
We are reminded in the Gospel of Luke where Jesus and the lawyer have an exchange about the definition of “neighbor” (Luke 10:25-37). After the exchange, and Jesus provides the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus makes a profound command at the end of the exchange, “…Go and do likewise.” As we continue, in the days ahead, we call upon all United Methodists of the Indiana Conference to join us in living according to our UMC Social Principles, and living out this command for mercy, while also prophetically speaking out against the sin of racism in Indiana; so that our Christian witness will have integrity and bring healing and hope to our broken world.
As members of the Extended Cabinet, we are committed to praying for a world where all are valued and viewed as equal, being intentional about creating conversation opportunities, and expectant that out of our learning, we can become more culturally competent and humble leaders. Additionally, we will model decision-making that reflects a commitment to inclusion, diversity, and anti-racist values which advances our missional focus throughout the Indiana Annual Conference.
During this Season of Pentecost, during which we are to show the significance of the Church being a sign of God’s presence and activity in the world, we invite each of you to join us in prayer, be intentional in learning, and become more culturally responsive in building relationships that help us to know all of our neighbors as people of worth.
21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge:
On Mission and In Service Together,
Bishop Julius C. Trimble, and the members of the 2019-2020 Extended Cabinet:
Rev. Russ Abel, Superintendent, East District
Dr. Aleze Fulbright, Superintendent, Central District
Rev. Lore Blinn Gibson, Superintendent, Northwest District
Rev. Mitch Gieselman, Superintendent, Southwest District
Rev. John Groves, Superintendent, West District
Mr. Ian Hall, Director of Administration and Financial Services
Dr. Saneta Maiko, Superintendent, North District
Rev. Dave Neckers, Superintendent, Northeast District
Rev. Chris Nunley, Superintendent, North Central District
Rev. Beverly Perry, Superintendent, Southeast District
Ms. Emily Reece, Director of Church Development
Dr. Gary Schaar, Superintendent, South District
Rev. Shannon Stringer, Director of Leadership Development
Rev. Larry Whitehead, Executive Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries