CHICAGO, IL (August 22, 2017) – Evangelical Covenant Churches have been posting statements in response to the march and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as ongoing racial tension throughout the country. Ministers say they have altered their sermons or intentionally including issues of race during times of congregational prayer.
President Gary Walter released a statement last week, which included these words: “In the Covenant, we instead yearn to be found evermore faithful to a kingdom vision here on earth as it is in heaven: a vision of every tribe, nation, and tongue finding its place of belonging and reconciliation at the feet of Jesus. We don’t always get it right, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right. And so, we press forward with resolve, lament, and the sometimes painful but always powerful work of the Holy Spirit.”
Below are some lightly edited statements published by several of Covenant churches.
On Ramps Covenant Church in Fresno, California:
On Ramps Covenant Church, a denominational member of the Evangelical Covenant Church founded in 1885, maintains that Christians are to live for “God’s glory and neighbor’s good.”
As we have witnessed the riots in Charlottesville over the past couple of days and heard from friends who were there, it is the conviction of the leadership of this church that a protest of this nature is antithetical to the Gospel, for in spirit and deed this protest sought to do harm to the people of Charlottesville, and all who were present that disagreed with a White Nationalist ideology.
We affirm the ethnic identity of those who identify as “white” but we denounce the racial origins of “whiteness” and the continuing legacy that it promotes by idealizing whites as inherently more deserving of privileges and a quality of life than people of color due to the pigmentation of one’s skin.
We affirm that all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and any ideology that promotes the superiority of one individual over another, one group of people over another group, or one nation over another nation is un-biblical, un-Christian, and anti-Christ.
We believe that the earth is groaning (Romans 8:19) for the children of God to bear witness to the Gospel and demonstrate the power of Jesus’s death and resurrection to reconcile us all that we might live as a kingdom community that loves all, welcomes all, and values the lives of all equally.
While many counter-protesters in Charlottesville were not non-violent in their rebuke of the alt-right’s white nationalist message, we affirm the response of many people of faith who stood firmly but peaceably to convey unity and strength through various expressions of worship on the streets. This non-violent prophetic witness is a methodology our church embraces and believes is the most biblical response.
Last, we grieve with the families and loved ones of the three people who lost their lives in this conflict, as well as those who were injured. These deaths are a great tragedy. We are praying for those who need comfort as they grieve the loss of those they love and for those who committed these murders. Despite the many embodiments of evil that transpired in Charlottesville this weekend we hold fast to our hope in God that he will “work all things together for good” (Romans 8:28). May it be so that God will bring forth new life out of this dark weekend and that many who marched to defend the cause of the Confederacy would some day march to promote the cause of reconciliation made possible through Jesus Christ.
First Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota
As we reflect on the show of hatred and racism in Charlottesville, we are deepened in our commitment to the gospel of Christ, which affirms that all are made in the image of God. We stand against racism and pray for the coming of God’s kingdom here on earth as in heaven. May God’s Spirit open our hearts to see each other as beloved, especially as and whenever racism and other prejudices cloud our vision.
Trinity Covenant Church in Livingston, New Jersey
All people are made in the image of God! We deplore the assertion that some are made to serve others out of their inferiority; rather we embrace our Savior who taught us by his own example to love and serve all.
We grieve with those who lost loved ones in the violence in Charlottesville. We pray for all who are recovering from their injuries. We declare the equal value of all and repudiate white supremacy in all its forms. And we do pray for God to overcome the hurts, fears, wounds, resentments, furies, injustices of all in our nation with justice, mercy, and love. May we be part of God’s answer to our prayers.