To the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire:
At the virtual July 18 ABCVNH Board of Trustees meeting, the Board received a draft statement concerning our nation's ongoing struggle with racism.
As the Executive Minister, I was instructed by the Board to receive further input from its members and in a timely manner release a revised statement. The statement was revised 3 times during the week and it attempts to respect and incorporate the consensus of the Board. This statement is released, with the Board's approval, to our Pastors and Churches for their presentation, sharing, and/or utilizing within their congregations. It is not a perfect statement, but represents the sincere work of the Board.
Please prayerfully receive the following attachment from ABCVNH's Leadership Board.
In Jesus name,
A Statement on Racism
As our nation continues the work of confronting the violent and painful realities of racism, discrimination, and inequality, and witnessing such acts toward our community, it is necessary to offer an unambiguous statement concerning racism. The American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire renounce all notion of racial superiority of any sort and all acts of violence. As we affirm with Scripture that all people are created in the image of the eternal God, we acknowledge that all forms of racism and the inevitable injustices which are its outcome are evil, since they damage and dehumanize both the perpetrator and the victim(s).
We confess that despite our being a diverse denomination, having no white majority, we have too often failed to see the victimization of Christ’ black and brown communities. We recognize the responsibility of those who enjoy privilege to end the suffering of those who are harassed, disenfranchised, and brutalized because of the color of their skin. We understand that unless ears are open to the cries of those who suffer, the heart remains deaf and the call for justice and peace mute. The need for honest conversations, deeper understanding, empathy and repentance is great. We also acknowledge the need for thoughtful and coordinated acts that will cause justice and mercy to flow down. Christians of all races must speak as one, in faithfulness to our Christ, for the ending and reforming of public policies and practices which harm communities of color and violate the consciences of those who must implement such policies and practices. We believe it is a Christian imperative to lift the curse of racism and inequality and reckon with our own histories of racism.
For the glory of God and for the love of Christ, to all black and brown communities, we recommit ourselves to Jesus Christ, himself a Jew from Galilee, who is our peace and hope, who makes us one, who destroys the barriers and dividing walls of hatred, who creates in Himself a new humanity, who reconciles all people and races to Himself through the cross, and who gives us all one and the same Spirit (Ephesians 2: 14-18). We recommit ourselves to His commands, knowing that to love God is to obey His commandments. (John 14:15). And we approach the work of racial reconciliation and justice with a renewed commitment to the Gospel, a Gospel that changed the Apostle’s Peter heart as evidenced by his words, “ I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35.) “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Board of Trustees
of the American Baptist Churches of Vermont and New Hampshire July 27, 2020
If you have any questions or comments about this statement, do not hesitate to contact me!