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 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