|Dear Church, |
Following the events of this past week, our North Trenholm Interfaith Clergy group met to support one another and prayerfully discern how best to care for our congregations. Our hope is that together, we may faithfully lead the blessed community we serve here in Forest Acres. I share with you tonight our collective statment in the hopes that we may, each of us, commit to working together for a better, more faithful, more peaceful and more unified 2021.
We live in a country that is significantly different from any other country where we have sojourned in the past. America offered us opportunities for growth, learning and freedom of practicing our faith. It was open to question and change its opposition to policies that afforded equality for all. American has been both a haven and a beacon to every race, religion and creed. What we have witnessed this past week is the degradation of that hopeful burning shrine in New York harbor that welcomed everyone.
We cringed watching the events in Washington DC unfold this week as rioters forcefully stormed the Capitol. It is a moment that will be forever etched in our minds as we have been taught to believe in the invincibility of Democracy. We need civility to be restored. We need American to return to its founding roots of welcoming the stranger (Leviticus 19:33) and embracing the differences as opportunities to enlarge our scope of understanding of the world.
We have all suffered this past year through the coronavirus, the uncertainty of venturing out of our homes, the protests in the streets and the radical standoff pitching one American against another. The divisiveness that has marred what that Lady in the Harbor stands for hurts our nation. Now is a time for healing and it must necessarily begin with us, in our homes, in our workplace, in our houses of worship, in our community and beyond.
We pray: “Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country – for its government, for its leaders and advisors, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach them insights of Your Word, that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst. Creator of all flesh, bless all the inhabitants of our country with Your spirit. May citizens of all races and creeds forge a common bond in true harmony, to banish hatred and bigotry, and to safeguard the ideals and free institutions that are the pride and glory of our country. May this land, under Your Providence, be an influence for good throughout the world, uniting all people in peace and freedom – and helping them to fulfill the vision of Your prophet: “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they experience war anymore.” And let us say: Amen.”
Rev. Julie Songer Belman, Bethel United Methodist Church
Rabbi Jonathan Case, Beth Shalom Synagogue
Rabbi Sabine Meyer, Tree of Life Synagogue
Rev. Beth McConnell, Kathwood Baptist Church
Rev. Ellen Fowler Skidmore, Forest Lake Presbyterian Church
Rev. Charles Smith, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church