Church Statement Committing to Antiracism, Nonviolence, and Police Reform

[Also posted at our church’s website]

June 10, 2020

As people of faith and disciples of Jesus, our community at First Congregational Church of Walla Walla stands with those struggling for racial justice who are speaking out about racism and white supremacy in our culture and institutions. We declare that Black lives matter. Black lives are sacred.

We share the grief over the violent death of George Floyd, a fellow Christian dedicated to peace, and over the many other unarmed Black, Brown, and Indigenous people who have died at the hands of those we entrust to provide fair and equal protection under the law. Our faith compels us to confront racism as a false idol and a force that crucifies.

We know that God’s grace, as a gift, is free, but it is not cheap. It calls us to a change of heart and of actions, seeing clearly the role of sin in ourselves and our society. We are humbled to acknowledge the sin of racism and White supremacy in ourselves, in our institutions, and in our country’s living history. We seek, with God’s help, and with the confidence that nothing truly separates any of us from the love of God, to do our part to overcome racism and heal the injustices in our society.

To that end:

We are committed to better understanding our own White privilege and racism, for those of us who are White, and to address its subtle and overt manifestations in our church culture. To aid us, we will use small group curricula developed by our national leadership in the United Church of Christ, such as “White Privilege – Let’s Talk: A Resource for Transformational Dialogue.” We invite others in our community to this work, and gladly will share these resources.

We are committed to supporting and responding to the leadership of Black and Brown people in our city and state who are developing policy measures that can reduce the risk of police violence and increase democratic oversight and accountability.

We are committed to finding appropriate ways as a church to help bring our local police and political leaders into conversation with the Walla Walla Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Walla Walla Immigrant Rights Coalition, as they request, to discuss meaningful reforms and reconciliation.

We are committed to peace and nonviolence in our ways, knowing all people are fellow children of God. We will do our part to reduce the level of violence in our society overall. This requires attending to larger injustices in our nation, largely impacting People of Color. This also requires attending to the seeds of violence in ourselves. A less violent society will reduce the level of risk for all, including police officers who too often must respond to violent situations.

We are above all committed to following the Way of Jesus with integrity, confronting the forces of violence and racism with love in our hearts and with our trust centered on the God of resurrection at work through history and beyond.

Rev. Nathaniel Mahlberg, Pastor J.R. VanSlyke, Moderator Jen Rickard, Vice-Moderator Dana Taggart, Chair, Board of Trustees Judy Chacon, Chair, Board of Deacons Heidi McFarley, Chair, Mission & Social Concerns Committee Dot Willis, Chair, Christian Education

#BiblicalSocialJustice #BlackLivesMatter #Christianity #PrinciplesofNonviolence #AntiRacism #PeaceandViolence

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