NASHVILLE, Tenn. July 29, 2015 /Discipleship Ministries/ – The Board of Directors of Discipleship Ministries has issued a statement opposing hate crimes in light of recent “acts of violence, destruction and murder based upon hatred, racism, fear, bigotry and prejudice.”
“As we at Discipleship Ministries focus our efforts on providing resources for serving and training leaders in annual conferences and local United Methodist churches, this statement by our Board of Directors very eloquently decries the hatred and hate crimes that sometimes plague us by expressing the unsurpassed love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," said Dr. Timothy L. Bias, General Secretary (chief executive) of Discipleship Ministries.
Here is the statement, prayerfully offered by Discipleship Ministries’ Board of Directors:
An Outcry Against Hatred and Hate Crimes and a Commitment to Prophetic Love
Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
1 John 4:20
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
In light of continuing acts of violence, destruction, and murder based upon hatred, racism, fear, bigotry and prejudice:
We recommit ourselves to the life to which our church’s baptismal liturgy calls us—a life in which we “renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness…reject the evil powers of this world…and accept the freedom and power God gives [us] to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
We stand united in our conviction that all human beings are of sacred worth, beloved by God and created in the Divine Image. We therefore denounce all hate crimes committed against women, men, youth, and children of all our racial or ethnic identities.
We deplore the evil of racism and its continued expression in the hearts and institutions of our culture. We therefore repudiate all forms of violence and mistreatment that are fueled by racist hatred and toxic bigotry.
We affirm that all are precious to God, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We therefore decry all crimes and violence against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer.
We maintain that justice must be pursued with both integrity and equity. We therefore denounce police brutality in any form. We also denounce the unjust targeting of law enforcement officers.
We deplore all acts of terrorism, whether foreign or domestic and all forms of social injustice, systemic discrimination, and dehumanizing oppression.
We reject and condemn all hate-fueled crimes of abuse and violence, believing that such crimes are an unacceptable assault on the sacredness of our shared existence.
We believe in the countercultural love and the transformational grace of Jesus Christ, in whom “there is no longer Jew or Greek…slave or free…male and female” (Galatians 3:28). We commit ourselves to building lives and communities in which love, justice, and mercy are as natural as breathing and every bit as urgent. We call for strategic partnerships and meaningful action plans that will lead humankind more deeply into God’s redemptive future.
We believe that God is relentlessly good; that God is far more devastated by our hatred and violence than we are; that God weeps and grieves over the unthinkable distortions of how God created things to be; and that God, even now, is redemptively and dynamically present in the brokenness, holding suffering souls in the quiet depths of the Divine Heart and ushering the church and world into a renewed commitment to justice, oneness, and agapic love.
We the church repent of the ways in which we have nurtured and reinforced hatred, both individually and communally, through our actions, our silence, and our toleration of distorted priorities. We call the church to a deeper and more holistic devotion to the way of Jesus, where grace transforms hatred into love, fractured relationship into reconciliation, and crippling fear into life-giving and world-shaping hope.