Dear ones: Black Lives Matter. We deeply grieve the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and Rayshard Brooks, the most recent casualties of the interlocking oppressions that characterize the brutal histories, and ongoing realities, of this nation. We grieve that the murders of these beloveds are only the most recent, among the scores of other Black sisters, brothers, and siblings whose lives are disproportionately taken by entangled pandemics of white supremacy, police violence, mass incarceration, economic exploitation, and COVID-19.
We follow a teacher/healer/prophet who called people to imagine radically new ways of being together, practicing solidarity, sharing resources equitably, and abolishing the structures and practices that inflict death, violence, and injustice. We affirm that the work to dismantle white supremacy must be done. Now. The labor is long, and it is also urgent. We recommit ourselves to this work, and to finding, claiming, and deepening our unique role in the holy labor of collective liberation. Any statement we make is only as meaningful as our ongoing living of it.
For those of us who are white, taking responsibility for a livable future means deepening our response-ability to the needs, cries, demands, and visions of BIPOC (Black, Indiginous, and People of Color) activists, artists, preachers, poets, scholars, and organizers whose lives and liberation are intimately bound up with our own. It also means doing our own work to identify and dismantle how white supremacy and privilege inform every aspect of our lives, internally, relationally, and structurally.
Our faith demands public expression and political engagement. In solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, we will follow the lead of those working toward abolishing the police, prison, and military industrial complex. We commit to aligning our work with those imagining and enacting a world where mutual aid, deep solidarity, and revolutionary love create the conditions for Black lives, and Indigenous futures, and Latinx dreams, and collective care to flourish.
For those of us who are white, and for primarily white institutions like the Wesley Center, this moment of grief and anger must also be about accountability, transformation, and healing—of ourselves, and our communities. Accountability to the necessary transformation must come from within and without. Real healing requires care-full tending of deep wounds. Therefore, we commit to the following actions:
- Creating and implementing an anti-racist, racial justice plan for the Wesley Center.
- Exploring strategies to support and participate in anti-racist, racial justice efforts in our communities at the local, campus, state, national, and global levels.
- Committing our space to be used as a sanctuary for those engaging in anti-racist work.
- Centering our programming on anti-racist, intersectional theologies, theories and praxes of liberation.
- Centering the scholarship, experiences, and needs of BIPOC folk, and particularly Queer and Trans BIPOC siblings.
- Aligning our resources with these values and commitments.
- Investing in diverse leadership by centering BIPOC recruitment for our Board, our student community, and our staff hiring.
- All of the white members of our board will participate in white accountability groups and we will move toward hosting a white accountability group.
At the center of our faith is the conviction: “None of us are free until all of us are free.” At the Wesley Center, when we gather together for nourishment and spiritual practice, we begin by breathing together. To breathe together is to conspire together, to pray together, to draw on and ground ourselves in Spirit, Breath. Ruach. Pneuma. Extinguishing the breath of another, as they cry “I can’t breathe” is an act of crucifixion. Silent complicity in the face of this violence is as deadly, and as evil, as perpetuation of it.
A commitment to intersectional racial justice is essential to fulfilling our mission to partner with students to seek justice, encounter community, and linger in Divine truths. A Divine truth: justice has been suffocated at the hands of white supremacy for centuries. A Divine truth: our labor must unleash, and be part of birthing, a new world today.
The Wesley Center Staff, and Board of Directors
Rev. Anna Blaedel
Rev. Sean McRoberts
Dr. Christopher Cheatum
Rev. Dr. Laura Felleman
Dr. Truman Jordan
Rev. Linda Butler
Rev. Leigh Brown
Tabitha Wiggins, M.S.