Aug. 12, 2020
To the People called United Methodist in the Mountain Sky Conference,
This summer has been one of unrest. In cities and towns across our conference and throughout the United States, there has been a groundswell of voices bearing testimony to the impact of racism and calling for justice and equality. White America is recognizing how racism has shaped this country’s narrative. Conversations are happening around kitchen tables. The United Methodist Church and our conference are engaging in activities to foster the anti-racism work necessary to lead ourselves and future generations into Beloved Community. Last week, the MSC Racial Justice Movement and Ministries team met for the first time. This team will be assisting us as we seek to challenge the many forms racism takes in our lives, communities, churches, and world.
Racism is costly: it has cost our conference the gifts and graces of a spiritually grounded pastor for our churches. It costs the mental and physical well-being of clergy of color and families. It is with great humility that I realize that we as a conference have much to learn of one another’s experience, particularly siblings of color, who live and serve within the Mountain Sky Conference. I know every person of color serving in the Mountain Sky Conference has a story of racism and the trauma it has inflicted on their families and on their souls. There can no longer be a silencing of these experiences. We must create safe spaces where the groans that are too deep for words can be uttered, where the ugly truths that we would like to turn away from are faced, and where healing can spring up with untold blessings.
It is with a deep commitment to justice and right relationship that I commit to learning about what it is like to be a person of color within the bounds of the conference, unlearning my own racism, and challenging structures and systems within our area and our conference that perpetuate inequality, hatred, and violence towards communities and individuals of color. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophet Micah gives us a simple but very challenging formula for holiness. He writes,
"... This is what Yahweh asks of you: Only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8).
The Mountain Sky Conference has done hard work before as it faced its legacy of intergenerational trauma caused by the unspeakable horrors our ancestors inflicted on the Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne tribes during the Sand Creek Massacre. It is time for us to look inward once again, at the ways our church, conference, and states continue to participate in and perpetuate racism. To that end, I call on Mountain Sky United Methodists to:
Listen and learn from our siblings of color.
Commit to a conference-wide Pilgrimage to a Land of Love this fall. Beginning in September, we will journey together through daily exercises, engaging texts, videos, music, and scripture to assist us as we grow in our anti-racism work (details will be available soon). I am asking every Mountain Sky United Methodist to join this Pilgrimage.
Participate in book studies, webinars, movie groups, and other group activities to communally grow in your understanding of racism (Debby Irving, author of Waking Up White, And Finding Myself in the Story of Race will be on a webinar with our conference from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 21. You can register online.)
Stay vigilant in order to expose and challenge racism when you encounter it.
When we were baptized and every time we reaffirm our baptism, we vow to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. Racism is a sin that desecrates the beauty and preciousness of God’s beloved. May we in the Mountain Sky Conference do all we can, with all the means we can, in every place we can, to eradicate racism.
With justice and joy, Bishop Karen Oliveto
The Mountain Sky Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church 6110 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. Greenwood Village, CO 80111 303-733-3736 | www.mtnskyumc.org