As the Leadership Team of Ohio Conference of Mennonite Church USA, we affirm the recent statement from Mennonite Church USA on racial injustice and Executive Director Glen Guyton’s open letter to the denomination. We lament the death of George Floyd, the latest death of an African-American person at the hands of a white police officer. We grieve the violence that has erupted in many cities across the country, and yet we acknowledge that much is the result of anger and frustration due to systemic injustice and racism against people of color that has been building for a long period of time, in fact for all of America’s history.
As a conference of mostly white members we are invited to come to this moment in a spirit of repentance, recognizing our failure to listen and to take seriously the reality of racism and what it means to be African-American in America. We repent of our silence and complacency in response to injustice and systemic oppression. We desire by God’s grace to listen, to learn, and to act in the spirit of Jesus Christ.
We encourage our congregations on Sunday, June 7, to pray and lament the deaths of numerous African-American men and women who have died as a result of racial violence at the hands of persons in authority, along with the most recent victim, George Floyd, and the violence, pain and injustice that is plaguing our nation. Please also pray for our nation’s leaders to make wise and compassionate decisions in the days ahead.
We also encourage our congregations to take concrete steps to not only make themselves more knowledgeable of the systemic racial injustice that exists in America, but to grow in relationship with those from other racial and ethnic groups and to actively examine ways in which our churches and communities are organized to exclude or subvert the gifts of people of color.
We recommend the resources that are listed at the end of MC USA’s statement on racial injustice. We affirm Glen Guyton’s call that this is not the time to be “the quiet in the land,” and that we need to stand with our black sisters and brothers in Christ.
Ohio Conference Leadership Team
Paula Snyder Belousek