From the Bishop’s Desk: Recent Events at Luther Place

Group 236

Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ,

This past weekend sinful and racist events occured at Luther Place Memorial Church in DC and in neighboring historic Black churches, The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and Asbury United Methodist Church. These houses of worship were vandalized and stripped of the Black Lives Matter signs each congregation had discerned and faithfully decided were a gospel proclamation they would lift up with a banner in front of their church buildings.

As described by Pastor Karen Brau of Luther Place, their Black Lives Matter banner was taken Friday night and on Saturday, “A gang of Proud Boys descended on the church, harassed our leaders and took the [new] sign away. This group came back a second time to intimidate us. Later Saturday night we learned we were part of an intentional targeting of houses of worship. Two historic Black churches were attacked — our neighbors. Their Black Lives Matter signs were ripped down, stomped on and burned by the Proud Boys.”

As people of God, we condemn these racist actions and the sin of white supremacy that justifies such unconscionable events.

On October 3rd, the Synod Council issued a letter of commitment against white supremacy and racial inequity. We did so in discernment and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We were led in this way because we understand that we live in a world too often seduced by systemic evil and injustice. We are aware that we live in a context consistently threatened and often consumed by lies and a spirit of fear. We’ve also been pressed by God to lean into the discomfort that comes when we witness and wrestle with how often white comfort trumps Black and Brown liberation. Beyond these undeniable realities, the council and I were led to these commitments because we take our baptism seriously.

When we are confirmed, and each time we affirm our baptism, we are addressed and asked, “People of God, do you renounce the devil and all the forces that defy God, the powers of this world that rebel against God, and the ways of sin that draw you from God?” And as an assembly, we respond. “I renounce them.”

 The events we witnessed this weekend and have witnessed this past year – in the murder of Black and Brown bodies and the constant threat and attempt to etch away at the soul of Black and Brown communities is evil. This evil defies God; it rebels against God and has the power to draw us away from God. As beloved people of God and baptized followers of Jesus, we resist, rebuke, and renounce this evil and we ask God to help us.

 To the Beloved Community of Luther Place, The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and Asbury United Methodist Church, thank you for your faithful and unapologetic witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will continue to engage in our baptismal commitments together.

 To all of our friends and colleagues in Christ, we have been invited by Rev. Dr. Iantha Mills of Asbury Church to join in a prayer service tomorrow, Dec. 16th, at 10am at Asbury UM Church on K Street. If you are able, join us in person or in spirit in active prayer as protest… with God’s help and in Jesus’ name.

Rev. Leila M. Ortiz, Bishop