North Georgia Black Methodist for Church Renewal, Inc. has consistently condemned the individual and collective attacks on our community. Last year, we requested the North Georgia Annual Conference to stand with us against white supremacy. We specifically highlighted the reality and impact of lynching in our community and the impact on our churches. These latest lynchings of Ahmaud Arbery (February/Georgia), Breonna Taylor (March/Kentucky), George Floyd (May/Minnesota) and Tony McDade (May/Florida) serve as vivid reminders. No matter how or where, being black in America has ALWAYS BEEN HAZARDOUS to our health. Now the world is screaming, “Black Lives Matter” and the list of names keeps growing. Surviving as a fully self- expressed African American human being in a culture of white supremacy requires extraordinary coping skills and a supportive village. Yet, even “Jesus wept.”
We are choosing to use the term white supremacy because it better reflects what we are addressing. For a helpful summary of race, click this link:
This evil of white supremacy is pervasive and organized. There is wickedness in high places. Arrests are a start. However, until we see convictions, sentences and actual time served, we are not impressed. Lost in this will be the continued sacrifice the black community makes for the pathology of white rage, fear and entitlement. We are simultaneously battling economic losses and unbearable deaths from COVID-19. We are grateful for healthcare workers. Yet, we pray for true healers. We feel the weight of the names when we call the roll. They push us forward.
The United Methodist Church must fully engage in its own unfinished work and end systems, structures and practices rooted in white supremacy (as well as its offspring - systemic racism, white privilege, etc.) within the church and community. Our faith teaches God created human beings. Europeans (white) created race, as we know it today, to justify the perpetual servitude for Africans (black) and their descendants. The United States of America perfected chattel slavery based solely on race. America has issues with race because it never intended to free enslaved Africans and has yet to achieve equality. African Americans will accept nothing less than freedom. Slavery has never truly ended...it simply morphed into another version of itself. Same devil...different name, e.g. convict leasing, Jim Crow, mass incarceration.
We are in Georgia, home to more monuments to white supremacy and the confederate insurgency than any other state in the country. North Georgia is home to Stone Mountain. Our church is full of Americans who share this history. Do not be deceived, white supremacy damages white Americans as well. Many have taken to the streets to maintain their own humanity and declare their opposition to the lynchings. Are we, in the United Methodist Church, willing to be honest and tell the truth to one another in love? Or will we maintain the lies our founding fathers told. Our faith commands us to love one another. Love is a conscious act of will. Do we really want to be made whole?
Our community is exhausted. Truth is, we are always exhausted. The weight of white supremacy is not our community’s burden to bear. Nevertheless, its effects are placed on our shoulders, our backs, our bodies, our minds. Like this latest coronavirus, America sits on our chest. And when we say “WE CAN’T BREATHE”, America doesn’t get up. Before we can catch our breath from one atrocity, another one happens. Our grief turns to stress, which turns to disease which this virus exploits. If anyone is afraid for their lives, IT IS BLACK MEN, it is black people. We don’t even get the luxury of being afraid...not even our children. “We have to fight, although we have to cry.”
White Americans, and more importantly white Christians, must do more than see us and empathize. This is remedial human work. Repentance means to turn, in this case, from fear to love. Love requires actual sacrifice. They must act to dismantle the very systems their forefathers put in place to privilege them.
We are done dying.
Advocate for change. The lynching of Ahmaud Arbery compelled NGBMCR to advocate for legislative changes. Contact your State Representatives and make a demand: Enact hate crimes legislation. Repeal citizens arrest statute.
Repeal laws intended to further restrict voting rights. Repeal laws prohibiting the removal of monuments (idols) in Georgia. For more information about confederate monuments click the link: https://www.splcenter.org/20190201/whose-heritage-public-symbols-confederacy
Support the Black College Fund. NGBMCR has actively supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (“HBCUs”) and raised over $10,000 via our Annual NGBMCR Revival. However, the North Georgia Annual Conference has not fully funded the Black College Fund which supports HBCUs. The Annual Conference should not list a church as having paid 100% of its apportionments, when its Black College Fund remains unpaid.
Move forward with those who remained. Methodist history is well documented. We have been a part of this church from the beginning. The existence of more than one predominately African American Methodist denomination gives witness to the difficulties of remaining. The Findings of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, and all that has been created out of BMCR, is the witness of “those who remained” despite all they experienced.
“From this day forward our dedication must be deep, our commitment sure and our action
certain, God’s work and way are contemporary in every age. There is no waiting for
tomorrow- it is blasphemous to shunt the expectations from our time to another- it is
cowardly and without faith to cry that the situation will adjust itself...Our time under God is
Now!” -Dr. Earnest A. Smith, 1968 Keynote Address, Black Methodists for Church Renewal
As the local caucus, NGBMCR will be requesting Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson to ally with us by convening a Black Church Summit to facilitate a dialogue between black laity and clergy as we move forward “treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.”
Keep us forever in the path we pray.
North Georgia Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc.
Mrs. DuWanna Thomas, Chairperson
Rev. Dr. M. Lavell Sanders, Vice-Chairperson
Mrs. Deborah Mathis-Browder, Secretary
Rev. Dr. Joseph L. Crawford, Sr., Treasurer
Mrs. Pamela Perkins Carn, Constitution and By-Laws
Ms. LaRita “Rita” Sprott, Communications
Ms. Monica Prothro, Programs Mrs. Hatti Jackson, Nominations
Ms. Carole Tucker-Burden, Membership
Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross, Advocacy
Mr. Ray Robinson, Finance
Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas, Past Chairperson, Past Coordinator, SEJBMCR
Rev. Brian Tillman, Conference Commission on Religion and Race
Become a member of NGBMCR.
Our Time Under God Is Now!