A MESSAGE OF HOPE IN THE

MIDST OF A STORM

(Prayers and Action:  The Jesus Way)

 

Dear Second Episcopal District Family,

 

As we remember the violence and the tragic outcome in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, August 12, 2017, we have again witnessed what bigotry, racism, violence and inhumanity can do.  We extend our sympathy and prayers to the families and friends of Heather Heyer and Virginia State Police Officers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, who lost their lives and the 19 who were injured. We join voices with many in speaking out unequivocally against racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance, and all forms of hatred that are now so publicly manifested in our society. The ensuing chaos and loss of lives show how these demonstrations were designed to divide, rather than unite.  We stand together, united for peace. 

 

I imagine many of you are experiencing a range of emotions -- anger, discouragement, fear, frustration, panic, helplessness, hopelessness, -- and these are normal human reactions.   In that moment, others might have relived the pain, suffering and grief we experienced in Charleston, South Carolina where nine lives were maliciously taken at Emanuel AME Church as they worshipped God in a prayer meeting.     

 

I have come to say to each of you, there is hope in the midst of our storm.  I ask you to look with spiritual eyes to the All-Seeing, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, and Everywhere Present God!  I ask you to remain calm and prayerful even in the midst of our storm.   And Jesus, God’s Son, has promised us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  I ask you to look up to the Cross; and to our sovereign Lord, the one who has all things under His rule and control.  He is a promise keeper.

 

I ask that you remain calm and prayerful as we plan our strategy for getting involved as a District. 

 

Rev. Wendell Christopher and Rev. Tony Lee, Social Justice Co-Coordinators have been most vigilant in keeping me informed.  The closest AME church, to Charlottesville, VA is Third Street Bethel in Richmond, VA. It is approximately 50 miles from Charlottesville.  They have been in contact with the pastor, Rev. Reuben Boyd, to get information on future plans.  As they provide definitive information to my office, we will be able to make a collective decision on how we can best show solidarity with the Charlottesville community as the Second Episcopal District.   

 

In the meantime, dates for the following immediate proactive strategies are forthcoming: 

  • A Planned Prayer Vigil for the Second Episcopal District for every church and the community where an AME Church is located.

  • Professional Non-Violent Training for all clergy in strategic methods for responding to racial discord.  This will empower them to be a value added resource to their communities.

 

Further, on August 12, 2017, The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church issued a powerful STATEMENT RE:  Violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We have posted it on the Second District Website.

 

I urge you to access the Statement.   Read it.  Use it for garnering factual information on the Charlottesville incident.   And disseminate it across the United States and worldwide.

 

Additionally, there are various opportunities for dialogue and involvement with other national, state and local organizations and agencies as a united approach to addressing the systemic issues of social and economic injustice to which people of color are subjected, including the One Thousand Ministers March for Justice, August 28, 2017.    

 

The Rev. Al Sharpton is asking for support for the One Thousand Ministers March for Justice on August 28th.  The March, sponsored by the National Action Network, is planned for the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream Speech.  The plan is to march from the Martin Luther King Memorial to the Department of Justice.  The march will focus on voting rights, health care access, criminal justice reform and economic justice.

 

We also ask that you stay prayerful for the upcoming meeting between Rev. Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church, Baltimore and Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer.

 

We want our voices to be heard.  We want others to know that these despicable acts must be condemned by all people of faith.  From its inception, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has stood for justice, freedom and liberation of all people. We must continue to let our voices be heard. ACTION MUST FOLLOW OUR PRAYERS!  

 

As we prayerfully act to do God’s will, pray for the anointing, leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit upon us.  Let us never forget the Words of Jesus, our Master Teacher, “And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love”  (1 Corithians 13:13 NIV).

 

I DARE YOU TO TRUST GOD!

 

In the Matchless Name of Jesus,I

James Levert Davis

Servant Bishop

 

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