Bishop Bruce R. Ough released the following letter June 10 to introduce a conference-wide special appeal to collect funds that will support congregations on the frontlines supporting ministries of mercy and ministries of racial justice.
Dear Friends in Christ,
There is more than one pandemic ravaging Minnesota and our country at this time. In addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged by a pandemic of racism, white supremacy, and white-on-black or brown violence. The tragic, racially charged, and unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers is only the latest flare-up of this pandemic—and Mr. Floyd is only the latest victim. The list of Black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day. The pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy, increasingly incited by political rhetoric, grows each day. The fear among parents of Black children grows each day. The flaunting of our laws against racial profiling and discrimination grows each day.
Char and I had the poignant privilege of attending the memorial service for George Floyd held in Minneapolis. This experience will be indelibly etched in our minds as we witnessed the tears of grief, co-mingled with cries for justice and stood for eight minutes and 46 seconds with hundreds of others to silently lament, “How long, O Lord” will breath be denied people of color?
I write this letter with the firm conviction that it is our responsibility as persons of faith, and particularly as followers of Jesus in the Methodist tradition, to address the pervasive pandemic of racism. Nelson Mandela declared, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” We stand at a critical intersection in history—called to be both students and teachers of love.
Therefore, I make this appeal for “JUST LOVE.” When we’re fearful and fuming, depleted and damaged, may we respond by just loving God and neighbor. When we witness discrimination and division, callousness and cruelty, may we respond by loving justly. Just love allocates human and financial resources to assess and address crisis response, relief, recovery rebuilding, renewal, repentance and restitution, trauma therapy, and anti-racism. Just love addresses the food, Black home and business ownership, and health care deserts within our communities.
I am inspired by the immediate, pastoral, and prophetic response of United Methodists across our state (you can read some of those stories here). We’ve protested with passion, fed the hungry, bound the injured, comforted the traumatized, coordinated volunteers, and spontaneously donated money and materials. Now we must maintain our momentum and broaden our participation. Please join Char and me in support of our Minnesota Conference JUST LOVE appeal. Your gifts will enable partnerships with our congregations on the frontlines to support ministries of mercy (crisis counseling, housing stability, food/medicine) and ministries of racial justice (education, advocacy, intervention). A Rapid Response Grant Team with representatives from urban core churches and Black congregational leaders will oversee special appeal allocations, and your donations will be directed to where there is the greatest need in rebuilding our neighborhoods.
If you prefer, checks can be mailed to the Minnesota Conference at 122 W. Franklin Ave., Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN 55404-2472. Please note “JUST LOVE” on the memo line. Thank you for your generosity and stewardship of God’s mercy and justice.
In the name of Christ who convicts, forgives, and redeems us all,
Bishop Bruce R. Ough
Resident Bishop, Dakotas-Minnesota Area
The United Methodist Church
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church