News and Views

BWC leaders affirm Baltimore

Posted by Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling on
Greetings Beloved of God,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Savior, Jesus the Christ. 
As servant leaders in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, including one of us who is a life-long resident of Baltimore, we have come to know and appreciate this great city as part of our ministry vineyard. We are deeply saddened by our president's disparaging and one-sided characterization of this part of our Annual Conference. As is our biblical mandate, we pray for President Trump and all of our elected officials. 
However, we are convinced that we must not rest in a place of offense - or even defense - over the comments made by the president about Baltimore. As followers of a Christ who spoke truth to power and held both religious and political leaders accountable for the care for all God's people, we likewise must speak out against injustice in all of its forms. This is the prophetic work to which we are all called, regardless of personal or political leanings. And, we must work to ensure a brighter future for all of God's people. We hope you will join us.
This latest series of tweets about Baltimore are not simply commentary about a city's issues with rodents, crime, or leadership. They contribute to the diminution of the worth and humanity of her citizens and their community. More significantly, they are a strategic diversion from a plethora of critical conversations around race and class disparities in this country, and an unfair attack on a public servant who has the character, track record, and integrity to lead locally and nationally. 
We are fully aware that the complexity of Baltimore's reality runs deeper than one leader. We are also aware that her struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) This is evidenced through the systemic barriers that ensure generational perpetuation of an underclass of white and non-white people upon whose backs the wealthy and elite enjoy luxury, comfort, and access to rich resources in Baltimore and beyond. It is evidenced through the convict leasing program and the preschool to prison pipeline of Black and Brown people. It is evidenced through the practice of redlining segments of Baltimore, and many cities like it, into pockets of poverty on the one hand, and pillars of privilege on the other hand.
We summarily reject the notion that Baltimore is a place or a people to be pitied. Rather, it is to be celebrated for all its beautiful diversity, creativity, and resilience. It is to be identified for resources that do more than put a band-aid on the crime, violence, homelessness, and social nihilism that plagues too many of its communities. What is needed are programs, policies, and prayerful people committed to leveling the playing field for all of God's children and standing ready to applaud and affirm them when they rise to the full reality of their potential. 
To the clergy and laity of the Baltimore Metropolitan District, we stand among you with pride and affirmation of the hard and joyful work you do in often difficult circumstances. You serve this great city with vision and purpose, fully aware of her challenges, but also cognizant of her potential. It is the ongoing work of resurrection and God is with us. 
Prayerfully, we call upon United Methodists to resist reactionary responses in the wake of the many issues we see and hear around us, but to prophetically choose: Community over Chaos (Jeremiah 29:7); Courage over Cowardice (2 Timothy 1:7); and Calling over Conflict(Luke 4:18). 
Let the ministry and mission continue.
Rev. Wanda Bynum Duckett
Superintendent, Baltimore Metropolitan District
Baltimore-Washington Conference
Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling
Baltimore-Washington Conference