Call to prayer and witness
Churches called to illuminate buildings this week
to support fairness and democracy
As Congress prepares to certify the results of the U.S. presidential election on Jan. 6, as part of an election season unlike any other in recent memory, United Methodists are being called to prayer. We prayed for peace as we approached November 3, 2020, and we will continue to pray for peace as our nation finalizes that process.
As a way of illuminating these prayers, we ask congregations to place candles in their windows to shine a beacon of hope on our nation today, tomorrow, and Thursday.
Many groups are traveling to Washington D.C. to protest the outcome of the election. Baltimore-Washington Conference leaders are honoring the request of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is urging people not to gather in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5 and 6. Some of these protesters, it has been reported, are seeking confrontation. On Dec. 12, a similar protest by the ultra-conservative group "Proud Boys" resulted in violence and vandalism being done to four D.C. churches, including Asbury UMC, where demonstrators tore down and burned a Black Lives Matter banner.
Although members of the congregations and conference will not be present on Tuesday and Wednesday, we are not abandoning our sacred spaces. In an effort to prevent further violence, security officials will be present at Asbury UMC on the days surrounding Jan. 6. This approach is consistent with the guidance offered in our BWC Election 2020 materials. We will always privilege life and safety above every other consideration.
The decision not to stage a counter-protest does not mean that United Methodists are in any way stepping away from their commitment to the democratic process or to justice and peace. Rather, leaders have discerned that a heated confrontation with those planning to descend on the capital does not further our stand for justice. Quite to the contrary, it detracts from law enforcement personnel being able to maintain the peace. If the circumstances necessitate a gathering in the coming days, we will organize ourselves in a more systemic, well-reasoned, and faithful witness that better accomplishes the Wesleyan mandate to do good, do no evil, and stay in love with God.
As we are honoring Mayor Bowser's request and attempting to support law enforcement personnel in the commission of their duties, we call upon them to uphold their oaths to serve and protect all people, and to do with equity and consistency. We also call upon them to move swiftly against actions of destruction whenever they occur.
For people of faith, January 6 is also Epiphany. In observance of this holy day, United Methodists will continue to rise as they seek to pursue the spiritual and moral obligation to be a light for peace and justice.
In a public ceremony last month to bless and rehang a Black Lives Matter banner at Asbury UMC, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling offered a statement urging United Methodists to continue to work for justice, love, and peace. She called on United Methodists to choose love, practice peace, and act justly so that hope endures, justice prevails, and love wins. In so doing, we will not only be shining a light in our windows, we will also be shining a light through our lives.