Respect for Religious Freedom and Love of Neighbor: A Call to Offer These Christmas Gifts

December 17, 2015

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is part of the Minnesota Council of Churches, which recently issued a statement addressing member constituents, those campaigning for public office, the media, Muslim neighbors, and refugees. The statement is below.

Minnesota Council of Churches
Statement of the Board of Directors

As Christian leaders who serve as the board of the Minnesota Council of Churches, we want to speak to our communities of faith and to the larger community of people living in Minnesota.

To begin, we want to address the members of all our communities of faith. We call on people to speak with respect in a tender time when we all feel vulnerable and unsafe after acts of mass violence. “Be not afraid…” is an exhortation in the Bible, again and again. Let that be the deep value in which we rest. Courageously reaching out to our neighbors, learning more about their stories, and supporting our newest neighbors is a gift worth giving in this Advent and Christmas season.

Secondly, we express appreciation for and commend consideration of all candidates in our political process who are respectfully engaging the issues of how we best build up the life of our state and nation and serve the common good.  We encourage people in political conversations in family, communities and work contexts to speak with care.  Our words matter.  Let us commit to refrain from using speech that reflects hatred of others and contributes to the division of our society.

We also ask media outlets to tell the stories of candidates, who in their campaigns, debates and addresses are offering constructive proposals for our shared life together. Your choice of stories matters and can build up or tear down the common good. When we focus only on the negative or inflammatory, we do not have time to hear the larger conversation and participate in discernment about our shared future together.

Most importantly, in a time when hard actions and sharp words have been directed at our Muslim neighbors, we want to speak a word of support and pledge to walk with them and support their freedom to practice their religion.  This country is built on that freedom.  We pledge to walk respectfully and to learn from one another.  The Islamic community in Minnesota is vibrant and diverse, contributing much to the state - as citizens, teachers, police officers, medical workers, tradespersons, community leaders, mothers and fathers.  We stand in solidarity with the Muslim communities of Minnesota and are ready to denounce the vitriol that comes their way.  As Christians, we are called to love all our neighbors.  Muslims are our neighbors, and we love them.

Finally, we are committed to continuing our long experience of working with diverse faith communities and of welcoming refugees into our midst, without regard for religion or ethnicity.  We are committed to building communities of respect.  We call for respect, support and helpful curiosity, instead of critique and attack, in the days to come from all people as we seek to build the best Minnesota possible.

MCC Members - Minnesota Jurisdictions of the following:

African Methodist Episcopal Church

American Baptist Churches, USA

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Church of God in Christ

Church of the Brethren

The Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Mennonite Church

Moravian Church

National Association of Congregational Christian Churches

National Baptist Convention

Pentecostal World Assemblies

Presbyterian Church (USA)

United Church of Christ

United Methodist Church

Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

122 West Franklin Avenue, Suite 400 Minneapolis, MN 55404

(612) 870-0058