My heart is breaking. An unspeakable crime of hatred against one of our sister Methodist congregations—Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina—has shaken me and our nation. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was born in 1816 of racism in the Methodist Episcopal Church and now in 2015, nearly 200 years later, the Mother Emanuel AME congregation is the victim of racist hatred. I join the lament: How long, O Lord, how long?
My heart breaks with overwhelming sorrow and grief for the nine shooting victims and their families. My heart breaks for the Charleston community, forever scarred by this horrific crime. My heart breaks for our country, trapped in an increasingly deadly cycle of hateful political and racist rhetoric and a culture of gun violence. My heart breaks for the young man who committed this crime and so many others that share a similar tortured journey. My heart breaks as I confront my own complacency and complicity in tolerating our country's growing intolerance. No more, O Lord, no more!
So, I call on all United Methodists in the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences to continue to pray for the victims of this senseless shooting and for the healing of Mother Emanuel AME. I call on all United Methodists across the Area to renew our work to end racism, hatred, and the derogatory rhetoric that gives license to acts of violence. I call on us to seek peace with justice and to affirm that all lives—every life—matters. Lord, have mercy; Christ have mercy.
“May the truth and power of Christ's revelation grant us hope in this hour.
The prophetic Word was confirmed to us.
You'll do well to keep focusing on it.
It's the one light you have in a dark time
as you wait for daybreak
and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts.”
2 Peter 1:19, The Message
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
The United Methodist Church
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church