PASTORAL RESPONSE to insurrection

Below is text of a letter shared to the newsletter subscribers of La Trinidad UMC in San Antonio where I serve as pastor.

6 January 2021

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3

Dear Friends and Family of La Trinidad UMC:

I write to you at a time of severe national crisis within the United States of America.  

A public rally in protest against the 2020 presidential election outcome has led to an insurrection against the legislative branch of the U.S. government.  Protesters broke into and shut down U.S. Capitol today, preventing members from both parties from lawfully certifying the votes of the electoral college.

Regardless of what national or religious symbols you saw being flown or worn on television coverage, some bearing the name of Jesus, what took place is not sanctioned by U.S. law or the canons of Christian doctrine.  This conduct is not patriotic, not Christian, and it is not moral, even if its perpetrators claim it to be.

This crisis is not an accident.  Our society has been subjected to decades of polarizing propaganda that appeals to resentment, jealousy, racism, sexism, and bigotry reinforced by conspiracy theories, cults of personality, and widespread defamation against vulnerable individuals and groups.  Such propaganda is toxic to the human soul, corrupting, and contrary to the established standards of doctrine and practice of the United Methodist Church.

Decent, thinking, and passionate people will always have differences of opinion.  Honest people will be open to criticism, to differing perspectives, and to the presentation of evidence.  Ethical and moral people will apply to themselves the same standards of integrity they expect in others.  Parliamentary process, elections, courts and political parties are the product of years of democratic tradition promoting peaceful conflict resolution and consensus building.

The resort to misinformation, authoritarianism, antagonism, coercion, sedition and violence represents the failure of leadership, not the success of it.

As Christians, our allegiance is to the Jesus of Scripture, the infant King pursued by a jealous Herod, the Son of God condemned and crucified by an agitated mob.  As the Body of Christ, our church seeks to embody the society we seek: inclusive unity in diversity serving each other and the world without partiality.  In our baptism, we pledge to resist evil and oppression and to embrace Christ and one another.  Our ministry, witness, humility and righteousness are empowered by the Holy Spirit, informed by the Gospel of love, and governed by the Prince of Peace.

Please pray for the government and people of the United States of America.  Pray for justice, peace, reconciliation, and healing.

Finally, I want all of you to know that I love you, and God loves you.  Your identity as a child of God supercedes any other identity or association you may have.  John Wesley identified the purpose of early Methodism as reforming the nation, especially the church, and spreading Scriptural holiness across the land.  In that spirit, let us continue to see Christ in each other within God’s beloved community as we pray for a nation in crisis.

Love in Christ,
Rev. John P. Feagins 

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