A DIFFERENT KIND OF PANDEMIC

A Different Kind Of Pandemic

How Will We Love?

By Pastor Tanya Edwards-Evans

Over the past few months, we have struggled with issues of isolation, frustration, and self-preservation.

We thought we were moving to some form of normalcy. However, we now find ourselves in another pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis revealed disparities that exist in our culture which have denied many of us working towards the American Dream. The current pandemic has killed over 100,000 Americans in just 90 days.

But, a different pandemic has taken over the news. This one is made up of racial unrest due to the number of Blacks/African-Americans that have been killed by the police and by citizens of all races.

As a black woman and mother, I have these questions: Where did this cultural fear of blacks, especially young black men from the age of 20-35, come from? What will you do differently as a white person, and more importantly, as a believer in Jesus Christ, to change this?

You will notice I did not use the word, “Christian.” The reason for this is historical. Since the time of slavery, I believe that the Bible has been used to restrain blacks by people calling themselves Christians.

The history of racism is not new to this country or to the United Methodist Church. It was the attitude toward slavery that played a part in the birth of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church, the Free Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Central Jurisdiction. After the merger of 1968, the UMC realized that separating black clergy was not a good thing, and not biblically correct.

The UMC has been seeking to bring about racial reconciliation in the church, and in the world.

After the 1968 merger, under the leadership of Rev. Woodie White, the United Methodist Church created the Commission on Religion and Race. I now ask the same question Bishop White asked, “When are we going to have the difficult, the critical, the self-revealing and the vital conversations that will change this denomination and the world?”  It is my hope that we reflect on Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Matthew 22:37-40 is also important to this discussion.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

I close with words from the Secretary of the Commission on Religion and Race, Bishop Woodie White, written by Joey Butler of the United Methodist News Service, April 2018.

“‘We began to help the church see for the first time the issue wasn’t black/white,’ White said. ‘There were people who were neither black nor white, and we needed to address issues of greater inclusiveness, and that became our role… Our job was to do this hands-on, nitty-gritty work people hadn’t thought about, to advise and consult.’

“White said that his role as an outsider helped him to initiate tough conversations and say things that the conference leaders — especially the black leaders — were reluctant to say.”

PASTOR TANYA EDWARDS-EVANS

is an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church - Peoria