August was a heart-breaking month, with news of violent natural disasters wreaking havoc on the global landscape and taking many lives. Yet, also in the headlines, we read shocking news of human-made violence and destruction, born of deep frustration, anger, prejudice, racism and hatred. Certainly we cannot always plan for or combat natural disasters, but it is within our power to extinguish the growing flame of violence and hateful words which only fuel the fires of adversity and war.
Having followed the tragedies in Charlottesville, Virginia (USA); Barcelona, Spain; and Northern Nigeria, it is evident that the acts of the few can create lasting and horrific effects on many innocent lives.
We mourn with the families of those lost and we ask the question of why – why them, why now?
We ask for God’s peace and comfort to surround those in the midst of these struggles and violent acts.
We earnestly commend those who have sprung into action at the first signs of peril, and who have resisted the urge to return evil with evil.
We challenge governments to protect and preserve the lives and properties of its citizens.
We denounced the actions of those wishing to spread hate, oppression, and hurt.
As a people who follow Christ, and who look to John Wesley as a role model in the faith, we know that it is unjust and “inhuman” to put ones’ self above another, and we must be on guard not to allow hatred in our own hearts for those who have perpetrated the violence, or to lump others in with the perpetrators.
We vow to face injustice and violence head-on, and no longer tolerate it. Human life is sacred and must be respected and honored. We will do all in our power to cut the root of the evil at its source and not allow it to grow stronger.
God’s grace is bigger and stronger than we can imagine, and God’s love will shine through even these darkest of circumstances to bring hope and healing in the wake of the worst of human sin. We therefore confirm that the Gospel of love is for all, regardless of nationality, colour, or culture.
As Methodists, we recall and take to heart the words of John Wesley …
In the name, then, and in the strength of God, let us resolve first, not to hurt one another; to do nothing unkind or unfriendly to each other, nothing which we would not have done to ourselves…
Let us resolve secondly, God being our helper, to speak nothing harsh or unkind of each other…
Let us, thirdly, resolve to harbor no unkind thought, no unfriendly temper, towards each other…
Let us, fourthly, endeavor to help each other on in whatever we are agreed leads to the kingdom. So far as we can, let us always rejoice to strengthen each other’s hands in God.
Let it be so.