Lay Leadership Statement
June 12, 2020
Dear Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church:
As lay leaders in this congregation, we write to you today sharing in our community’s collective grief and outrage at the murder of George Floyd on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer. We are angry and saddened that yet another Black person has been murdered, and we grieve as God grieves that systemic racism and oppression continue to harm our community, our society, and the church.
We name our contributions to systemic racism and its continuing impact on our community. Our collective history of white supremacy has allowed for and perpetuated a system and culture where, among other pernicious effects, acts of police brutality are left undisciplined and unaddressed, and where force is used by police toward our black and brown brothers, sisters, and siblings in Christ at a disproportionately high rate.
Our behavior is unacceptable and must change now.
As United Methodists, we are called first to do no harm. We are also called to love God, and to do good toward all people, at all times, in all places. Christ, who leads us with love, calls us to work for justice and peace, and so we acknowledge the following:
- We acknowledge we must work together to undo the harm that church and society have caused in exclusion and discrimination through systemic forms of oppression.
- We acknowledge it is our role as your lay leaders to examine how we as a church engage in this work happening now and the road that is ahead.
- We acknowledge and repent of our implicit biases and our contributions to racism.
- We acknowledge we must live in the discomfort of seeking to understand and let go of the need to be right and defend ourselves.
- We acknowledge it is not enough to be not racist, we must take up the mantle of becoming anti-racist.
- We acknowledge that we need to be in community with those who are already deeply engaged in this vital work.
- We acknowledge that while we can talk about advancing our mission and strategic initiatives of growing in love of God and neighbor, reaching new people, and healing a broken world, it doesn’t matter unless we act to do so by intentionally building a multi-racial beloved community inside and outside our church walls, and by working to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice for all.
Finally, we ask you to join us in acknowledging this statement, and wherever you are in your journey, to join us in becoming anti-racist. We cannot be people of faith unless we acknowledge and repent of our sins, and atone for them in action. One way to begin is to participate in the GCORR Implicit Bias training and engage in Vital Conversations with others in our community and congregation about racism (see Courses & Dialogues, below, for details). In the coming weeks, our church will be bringing forward additional opportunities for us to work individually and collectively toward becoming anti-racist.
We pray today and each day that together we continue to learn from the experiences of one another as we decry the sin of racism, grow in our love for one another, and together heal our broken world.
Together with you in Christ,
The Lay Leaders of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church
Strategic Council Co-chairs:
Taylor Rub, Jon Nygren
Rodney Bacon, Glenna Dibrell, David Focht, John Haberman, Chidi Omeoga, Marla Tipping
Other Lay Leaders:
Adele Dahm (Risk-Taking Mission & Service), Amy Batchelder (Staff Parish Relations; Risk Taking Mission & Service), Amy K. Griffiths Tori (Communications & Marketing), Ann Carlson (Baiwalla, Sierra Leone Ministry; Refugee Resettlement ministry), Anna Horning Nygren (Staff Parish Relations; Children’s Team), Becky Boland (United Methodist Women), Beth Arel (Fine Arts Team), Bill Tipping, Bill Waterman (Trustee), Bobbie Keller (Senior Team), Brooke Smars (Stewardship Co-chair), Brian Seim (Finance), Bryan Carter (Community Meals), Cheryl Gibbons (Connections), Chrissy Dahlheimer (Finance), Cindy Aegerter, Conner Simms (Staff Parish Relations), Dan McConnell (Trustee), David Kinyon (Staff Parish Relations), Diane Goulding, Donna Long (Trustee), Daniel Dahm (Trustee), Elizabeth Barnum (Adult Team), Ellen Sundell (Head Usher), Faith Nutz, Gail Hansen, Ginger Sisco (Connections Committee chair), Hannah Widmer , Heather Alden (Youth Committee), James Narr (Finance), Janelle Vaubel (UMCOR Sager Brown ministry), Janet Polach (Connections Committee), Jeff Niblack (Finance, Children’s Team), Jeff Smith (former Lay Leader and long-time member), Jerry Gale (Member since 1977), Jill Johnson (Music Committee), Joe Polach, John Dunlop (Outreach), John Roberts (Connections Team member), John Thornbrugh, Juanita Reed-Boniface (Co-Facilitator, Thursday Morning Bible Study), Judith Pratt (Knotty Quilters), Kale Langley (Stewardship Co-Chair), Kara Holthe, Karen Andrew (United Methodist Women, Risk Taking Mission and Service, Library Team), Kathryn Johnson (Adult Team), Kemi Ojelade (Youth Committee), Kristin K. Zinsmaster, Laura Dirks (Library Team), Leslie Wille, Liz Buckingham (Trustees), Lona Dallessandro (Risk Taking Mission and Service Lay Leader), Lynne Carroll (Children and Family Ministries), Magee Glenn-Burns, Marcia Sullivan (Fine Arts), Maren Jensen, Marilyn Newstrum (Connections Committee), Mark Giorgini (Risk-taking Mission and Service), Mark Squire (Music & Fine Arts), Marty Shimko (Finance Committee), Mary Martin (RTMS), Mike DeVaughn (Staff Parrish Relations), Nancy Gunderson, Nancy Whiteside (Library Team), Randy Barreto (SPR, Chair), Rick Belbutoski, Rita Lyell , Sarah Wiechmann, Steve Mahle (Finance), Susan Dunlop (Legacy Committee), Susanne Mattison (UMW)
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