I received the news of the violence that erupted this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, as I was attending the Southwest District United Methodist Men’s Rally. As followers of the Prince of Peace, who himself died at the hands of violent people, we United Methodists raise our voices in protest over this latest demonstration of inhumanity to one another. We pray for those on all sides of this conflict to come to the awareness that such actions are a denial of the values that bind us together as citizens of this nation.
There is a message to be found in the very location of the UMM rally: it was held in the sanctuary of the Casa de Vida y Paz, the Hispanic Mission Church in Bainbridge. That name means House of Life and Peace. While it is important to clearly renounce the hatred and violence in Charlottesville, we United Methodists know that it is important to do more: build houses of life and peace where all people may learn to be Alive Together in Christ. That is God’s call upon us. And that is what our communities need.
As United Methodists living in the United States we thank God for our nation and the principles of freedom and justice for all upon which it stands. Our love for Christ and gratitude for the nation lead us to reject all expressions that divide us into groups that promote violence toward those of other races, ethnicities, and religions. Our country needs citizens with hearts of peace rather than hearts of violence and divisiveness. Our communities need local churches and disciples of Christ that are committed to the non-violent example of Christ and speak hope and healing toward bringing down the dividing walls of hostility so that enemies are transformed as Christ becomes our peace.
Let each South Georgia congregation live in such a way that it sends this message to its community: if you want to see our nation and world move beyond violence and hatred to peace and hope, then come join us as together we build and dwell in Casa de Vida y Paz – a house of life and peace.
Alive Together in Christ,