Greetings Holy, Healthy and Happy People of God,
As I write this eNote to our faithful and devoted community of radical followers of Jesus Christ, I am reminded of this notion of building bridges. One mantra you hear often at McKendree and at The Encounter@MetroCenter is “Building bridges of hope through the love of Jesus Christ!”
Last week on Dr. Martin Luther King Day, McKendree and The Encounter@MetroCenter invited other area congregations to share in the planning and viewing of the documentary 13th with small group conversations to follow. When we gathered at The United Methodist Publishing House, twelve congregations (Arlington UMC, Axis, Belmont UMC, Clark Memorial UMC, First Baptist Capitol Hill, First Lutheran, Fisk University Wesley Foundation, Gordon Memorial UMC, Grace Church of the Nazarene, Hamilton UMC, McKendree UMC, The Encounter@MetroCenter) were present with a total of over 120 people to be informed and immersed in the conditions for mass incarceration.
The testimonies and the witness of hope inspired us for our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated, many unjustly sentenced to guaranteed sentences of 20 years beginning at the age of 17 for non-violent crimes. Dr. King said this, “It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not been in favor of justice for all people.”
While viewing the documentary, I reflected how both political parties have contributed to the institutional and savage ways of mass incarceration. And how often we are silent because we the church are ignorant? However, ignorance has cure and it starts with awareness and acknowledgment of the current reality.
Those gathered on MLK Day are now aware and informed of the injustices that exist in the criminal justice system. This division, based on economics and race, must stop and the church has an obligation to lead the conversation and ultimately the action to change the systemic structures that treat people less than human. We need to offer an “alternate narrative” that includes the love of justice of Jesus Christ! The Apostle Paul speaks about the division of his day, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-28
Hear the W.O.W., Words of Wisdom,
“Stay curious and contribute to justice for all people!”