The Dover Area Religious Leaders Association used this letter as the basis of their own letter, printed in the June 18 issue of Foster’s, Letter: Dover Area Religious Leaders take stand against racism
The NH Council of Churches is made up of nine denominations, comprising nearly 400 congregations across the Granite State. As the faith leaders in six of those denominations, we offer a pastoral word to all of the churches and all of the people of New Hampshire.
We mourn the evil violence that ended the lives of George Floyd, Breona Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, each of them made in God’s image. We now hear clearly God’s charge to his prophet and to us: “See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,…to build and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).
We affirm that God calls us “to pluck up and to pull down” the racism so deeply rooted in our nation. Racially motivated police violence cannot be stopped unless we first commit to pulling down the systemic racism and white supremacy around us.
We further affirm that we cannot only decry the racism found in far-away parts of the nation. As we say the names of George Floyd, Breona Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery we must also say the names of Jean Roland Saint Preaux, Jeffery Pendleton and our own schoolchildren. We cannot look down on Minneapolis, Louisville or Glynn County without also addressing the racism found in Albany, Manchester, Claremont and Kingston.
As faith leaders we commit to stand with the victims of racism here in New Hampshire and in every place. We commit to look closely at our denominational bodies and in our congregations in order to “pull down” the racist structures that we find there.
We commit to close examination of the vineyards of our church cultures and systems that normalized silence and complicity with white supremacy. With contrition we admit they should have been “plucked up” long ago and never been given room to flourish.
We commit to helping every person in our churches and in our state examine their souls and “pluck up” the racism that they find deeply planted there.
Only through this fierce moral inventory can we then begin “to build and to plant” the foundations and seeds of a new world whether we call it the Kingdom of God, the Beloved Community or by some other name.
Only then will our nation, our state, our churches and our souls find their true peace, not “a negative peace which is the absence of tension” but “a positive peace which is the presence of justice”
(Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
Yours in God’s prophetic calling,
Rev. Jason Wells
Executive Director, NH Council of Churches
The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld
Bishop, Episcopal Church of NH
The Rev. Taesung Kang
New Hampshire District Superintendent
New England Conference
The United Methodist Church
Rev. Cindy Kohlmann
Presbytery of Northern New England
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Regional Lead, New England Region
Unitarian Universalist Association
New England Yearly Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
Reverend Gordon Rankin
New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ
Pastor Tim Roser
Associate to the Bishop, New Hampshire Conference
New England Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America