In the days following the tragic shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., several fires broke out at predominantly black churches across the South. As of this date, three of those fires have been dubbed arson, and the FBI is investigating the incidents as potential hate crimes.
In our country’s history, many black churches have been burned. Though church burnings are less common today, they happen with more frequency than most people realize. The complicity of silence of the white church during the rash of terrorism against African American churches in the 1960s will forever remain a blight on the white church’s witness for social justice. As clergy in predominantly white United Methodist Churches we feel it is important to speak out against violence targeting our brothers and sisters in African American churches.
We condemn all racist acts against predominantly black churches and name specifically the burning of churches as heinous crimes and intolerable acts of inhumanity. The black church has stood at the center of the fight for civil rights in our country, and we express gratitude for the collective ministry and witness of the black churches, especially in the South where their very existence is threatened physically and politically. We stand in solidarity with all victims of violence. We extend prayers and support to members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and the churches victimized by arson.
We feel powerless and frustrated by the situation. By its nature, terrorism strikes in unpredictable ways and places. We affirm the words of Cornell Williams Brooks, President of the NAACP, who said that the events require our collective attention and cautioned that we cannot turn a blind eye to any incident. We add our voice of faith to the calls for careful investigation, wise care and caution to protect innocent lives, and faithful generosity to help restore the buildings that have been harmed.
We will receive offerings in our churches through the month of August, the proceeds of which will be given through the North Georgia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to be divided among the churches victimized by arson. You may give in worship by placing a donation in the offering plate designated for this fund or you may give online here.
We invite and encourage other churches to stand with black churches and join in advocating against violence, calling for thorough investigation by the law enforcement, and working toward restoration of the churches.
Rev. Alice Rogers
Sr. Pastor at Glenn UMC
Rev. Bill Britt
Sr. Pastor at Peachtree Road UMC
Rev. Glenn Ethridge
Sr. Pastor at Oak Grove UMC
This statement is made jointly by these three pastors. For more information you may contact any of the pastors directly.