Washington, D.C.: In the wake of a tragic shooting of nine people attending Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is reaching out to their colleague bishops in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with a message of prayer and healing.
The bishops also called upon United Methodists to support victims of violence and to work to end racism and hatred. Their message echoed that of a pastoral letter on racism issued by the Council to the people of The United Methodist Church in early May.
A letter from the President of the Council, Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., to the bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church reads:
Dear Bishop Bryant and colleague African Methodist Episcopal Bishops,
Grace and Peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior of our broken world.
Your sisters and brothers in the Council of Bishops and congregations of The United Methodist Church are in prayer with and for you in the wake of the racist murders and hateful violence at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. May the Holy Spirit endow you with a full measure of love, wisdom and courage as you lead the Church and witness to the world in this consequential time.
We join in mourning the tragic loss of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, and the other victims who were meeting with prayers offered to the One who is our hope. We are all now a part of a global prayer meeting for these families and all families and communities deeply wounded by racism and violence. We unite voices in proclaiming, "If God is for us, who can be against us? ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us!" (Romans 8)
As other recent events of violence and racism have compelled us to do, again we call on United Methodists and all people of good will to support the victims of this and all acts of violence, to work to end racism and hatred, to seek peace with justice, and to live the prayer that our Lord gave us, that God's "kingdom come, (and) will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
We go forward with Wesley's assurance that "Best of all God is with us."
In Christ's Love,
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., President
The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church is in a full Communion relationship with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the other member Methodist denominations of the Pan-Methodist Commission.
The Council of Bishops provides leadership and helps set the direction of the 12.8 million-member church and its mission throughout the world. The bishops are the top clergy leaders of The United Methodist Church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough will become president of the Council of Bishops in May 2016.
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