June 19 Statement on Commissioning “The Bridge”

Below is a letter to our congregation from pastors and elders stating our position on our call and responsibility towards racial reconciliation, along with a commission to establishing a ministry for racial reconciliation now named “The Bridge.”

June 19, 2020
Dear Friends Church Family,
Over the past several weeks our hearts have been deeply saddened as we have been confronted
once again with the consequences of the ugly sin of racial and ethnic prejudice in our society.
Sadly, the pain and suffering felt especially by our racially oppressed brothers and sisters is very
deep and has been endured for much too long. The recent senseless killings of George Floyd,
Ahmad Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among others, have opened wounds that have long been
ignored. We grieve with these families and the entire black community at these unnecessary
deaths and the continued pain they are experiencing.
The Society of Friends has historically held deep convictions against prejudice resulting in
inequality, unjust treatment, and abuse in all its expressions. Early Friends in this country gained
a reputation for dealing much more fairly with Native Americans than others did at the time.
They were also the first religious group to publicly denounce slavery and the first to require their
members to free slaves. However, we recognize that our past behaviors are not a substitute for
present action. Before we can endeavor to adequately lead in addressing racial and ethnic
prejudice in our culture and work toward racial and ethnic reconciliation, we must first take a
hard look in the mirror. What we see is a need for Evangelical Christians to remove the log from
our own eyes and to be on our knees in confession and repentance for our part in allowing this
sin of prejudice to flourish. Too often we have remained silently on the sidelines. For this, we
ask forgiveness from both our Lord and from our racially oppressed brothers and sisters.
We believe it is the responsibility of the church to boldly proclaim God’s truth as revealed to us
in Scripture, beginning with the knowledge that everyone is created in the image of God, loved
by God and welcomed as equal within God’s family. The Bible explicitly declares that God does
not show favoritism (Acts 10:34.) In fact, Paul is adamant that we are all on equal footing before
God when he states, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Galatians
3:28.) In addition, when Peter allowed ethnicity, race, and culture to cloud his judgment, Paul
went to great lengths to correct him (Galatians 2:11-21.)
As the church of Jesus Christ, our call is to be engaged in the ministry of reconciliation, with
God and with our brothers and sisters. This begins by embracing a radical expression of our love
for God and for our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-49.) In the face of the extensive damage brought
about by the sin of racial and ethnic prejudice, our love cannot be passive. We recognize our
need to stand against this evil and to join our voice with others who are seeking to create
meaningful and lasting change.
As the first step in our commitment to racial reconciliation and unity, we are announcing the
formation of a new ministry at Friends Church called The Bridge. Our current small group,
affectionately known as “The Diversity Class,” has been meeting for more than two years to
discuss how faith in Jesus Christ shapes our understanding and response to issues relating to
racial division. This group, which is comprised of people of a variety of racial and ethnic
backgrounds, was the catalyst behind our very successful Diversity Dinner last November.
Empowering this small group to become a formal ministry in the church commissions them to
lead our congregation in grasping a more robust vision of diversity both within our congregation
and in the wider community to which we are called. If you are interested in learning more about
this ministry, please email info@whfriends.org and indicate your interest in this ministry.
We are committed to working with The Bridge as we stand against racial and ethnic prejudice in
all its forms. In addition, we are asking everyone to join us in prayer for our church, city, and
nation as we seek the Lord’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven. And we should be
encouraged and enlightened by the vision of heaven revealed by Christ to John and described in
Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could
count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the
Lamb.” In advance of our arrival There, shouldn’t there be love among us all here on earth?

Standing together in loving our neighbors,
Friends Church Pastors and Elder Board

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  1. Pingback: What is The Bridge? – Friends Church: Willoughby Hills

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