Interfaith Cooperation Addressing Violence

In Louisville, KY, an annual interfaith service memorializes the previous year's victims of violence and cares for the survivors of that violence. Representatives of the police, survivors and religious traditions come together so that the impact of violence is marked and care is shown. 

The February 23 2014 service marked the year 2013. A 35 minute video of the service was created by Stephen M. Taylor and posted to YouTube. Its link is here.

May you find it helpful either personally or as a model for what cities and towns can do.

Helping Churches End Racism

In 2011, the Kentucky Council of Churches unanimously endorsed a statement about racism that is rich in its usefulness to the churches. It clarifies racism in its various dimensions, adds a timeline of key race-related developments in Kentucky history, and provides a wealth of practical suggestions for how to proceed in the churches. The entire document is at this link.

Here are excerpts chosen to whet the interest of readers, and encourage you to download the whole document and use it in your church settings:

“The pronouncements of many churches on the issue of “race” have sometimes been stronger than their actual social actions. While the social policies and proclamations of various denominations have continued to emphasize inclusiveness and justice, these often do not translate into the hearts and minds and actions of their members. Even without conscious prejudice, we can allow practices, policies and systems that perpetuate injustice, discrimination and oppression to continue to flourish. Many Christians today are passive in the face of the adoption of regressive social policies. Maintaining the status quo will not take us where we need to go. We cannot be passively anti-racist; doing nothing allows systemic racism to continue to be perpetrated.

“We have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to end the oppression that is the result of systemic and institutionalized racism. This responsibility has a biblical mandate. Jesus made it clear that his entire life and ministry embodied and required freedom for the oppressed. Indeed, all of Scripture is replete with glimpses of how we should interact with our fellow children of God. The Bible teaches us that humankind was created in the Image of God. Based on centuries of Judaic and Christian teachings that have examined various substantive, relational, functional and other dimensions of this amazing declaration, we believe all humankind is made in the Image of God, regardless of the amount of melanin we possess (Genesis 1:26-27). Racism denies the image of God that is given each person in creation and makes an idol out of human physical appearance.

“The Kentucky Council of Churches (KCC) affirms that racism violates God’s purpose for humanity and is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The KCC recognizes that racism is sin. Racism is fundamentally a spiritual problem because it denies our true identity as children of God. The KCC is committed to confronting the ideology of “White” supremacy and the reality of “White” privilege -- the often undetected way in which “White” people enjoy advantages simply by virtue of the color of their skin.

“Unless significant initiatives are taken to counter current conditions and trends, racism will continue to corrupt our national and ecclesiastical aspirations for a society that truly incarnates “liberty and justice for all.” We therefore appeal to the people of our churches and our nation to make a renewed commitment to combat the sins of personal racism; structural, institutional and systemic racism; “White” privilege; and other intertwined manifestations and forms of racism. The moral integrity and credibility of both our nation and our churches are at stake in this struggle. For the members of the KCC particularly, our quest for visible unity is irrelevant – in fact, fraudulent – unless that unity embodies racial solidarity and produces a vital public witness for racial equality and fairness. The members of the KCC seek to embrace this commitment together.”

Peacemaking

The churches of Kentucky have periodically reminded ourselves that the ministry Jesus gives is one of reconciliation, and that our call to be peacemakers is one that has to transform our hearts and minds as well as our world. On once such occasion, the Council passed the following resolution. We offer it humbly as a model that could be borrowed and encourage you to use it wherever it may be appropriate and helpful:
That Which Makes for Peace

WHEREAS, Jesus breaks down the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14) and weeps that we do not know “the things that make for peace” (Luke 19:41-42) and we confess that we are often complacent or uninformed about injustice, violence, and exclusion of others, both in our communities and in the world; and

WHEREAS, the church has a prophetic mission to live out Christ’s way of peace (Luke 1:79), and to express God’s steadfast love in all our relationships (Psalm 85:10-13) and we confess that we struggle in our own congregations and church structures with racism, domestic violence, destructive communication, and many forms of sin and violence; and

WHEREAS the 58th Annual Assembly of the Kentucky Conference of Churches takes note of the large number of current and impending violent conflicts throughout God's world, and