Beloved United Methodist Church, Council of Bishops and Agencies:
Today as the Youth Council of M.A.R.C.H.A, we write these words while our bodies are threatened yet again by those who follow the less-than Christian ideals of building walls rather than bridges. Today for some, the veil of racism, xenophobia, homophobia and misogyny has been lifted exposing “Trump’s America”. However, for us, as people of color in United States “home and homeland have not been safe places – our bodies are constantly targeted, trespassed, and violated. Poor women and young Black and Latino men have never been safe in this country – a country that internally colonizes people of color, enforces women’s domestication through violence, and continues the slow genocide of Native Americans”.1
The reality that we live in is no surprise for us (Latinx Youth). In fact, knowing the existing reality of our country was what compelled us to present the resolution "Open Table at the Intersection", this past August 2016 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.2 Nevertheless, our hearts hurt and we are disappointed that our United Methodist Church and its Council of Bishops remains silent in the face of the growing wave of violence against people of color, women, undocumented persons, Muslims, immigrants and the LGBTIQ community. In the face of the growing wave of vandalism to Latinxs and African American churches, our leaders have remained silent. President of the Council of Bishop Bruce Ough sent a letter to congratulate the President-elect and to offer prayers without acknowledging that the homophobic, racist, xenophobic and misogynistic speech of Mr. Trump has given rise to a growing wave of active violence against our people. "Racialized language leads to racial profiling, which leads to targeting dark-skinned, Middle Eastern-looking, and other people of color earmarked as potential terrorist.”3 We feel ignored and abandoned by the leadership of our church.
As the Youth Council of M.A.R.C.H.A., we call on the Executive Committee of M.A.R.C.H.A to:
1. Call an immediate meeting. We request that Executive Committee of MARCHA and the National Plan for Hispanic and Latino/a Ministry which calls for a meeting that includes at least 2 Jurisdictional Latino/a leaders, the executive committee of the Youth Council AND extends an invitation to representatives from UMCOM, GCORR and GBCS and our Latinx Bishops for the purpose of developing and establishing concrete and intentional strategies for the physical and spiritual well being of our people.
… We call on the Council of Bishops, The Connectional Table and General Agencies of our Church to:
1. Issue a statement denouncing the open and clearly racist, misogynist, homophobic, Islamaphobic and sexist speech that has given rise to the further persecution, criminalization and contempt of our people AND that leads to concrete actions from the COB and the UMC. It took one day for the Council of Bishops to congratulate the President-elect and to return to business as usual. We expect that our denominational leaders express the same urgency in offering a public statement denouncing hate and bigotry as incompatible with Christian teaching.
2. Fulfill their call to love our neighbor and to position themselves clearly and openly against the deportations which both threaten to separate and which have separated thousands of families, we expect our church leaders to do this not only in speech but in concrete actions.
3. In the same way in which our church allocated three million dollars to spend on a commission of 32 persons in which there is no just representation of the Latinx community. We request that the COB, general agencies, including the Connectional Table identify and allocate funds to Justice for Our Neighbor (JFON) and The Immigration Task Forces. We must increase financial support to these offices committed to fighting for a just immigration system. This not about theological differences, but precisely justice for our neighbors. In times where the message of the COB is all about unity, help us to keep our families united.
4. We call on the Council of Bishops, The Connectional Table and General Agencies of our Church to: Work towards the revitalization of the initiative "The Sanctuary Movement".
5. We call on the Council of Bishops, The Connectional Table and General Agencies of our Church to: Develop educational workshops/programs at the local level on racism, immigration, homophobia, islamophobia, sexism.
6. That our Bishops call on the United Methodist Church to comply with our call as Christians to liberate the oppressed and the recovery of the sight of the blind. We cannot proclaim the year of the Lord, nor the unity of the Spirit if that unity is at the expense of the most vulnerable.
In addition, we call upon Bishop Hope Morgan Ward to offer a public apology to our United Methodist Latinx Youth about what happened at Pilgrimage 2016 in the North Carolina Annual Conference. This apology has to be something more than a public post on Facebook, but a concrete step to repudiate and redress these harmful actions.
In words of Bishop Minerva Carcaño, following Jesus and standing with and caring for those whom Jesus also loves, may require that we challenge the political powers of our time. Let us be people of Christian faith, unafraid, for the God of justice will be with us.4 We call on the Latinx United Methodist youth to unite in spirit and spiritual activism. We must "rise up in testimony. Let us begin by admitting that as a nation we’re killing the dream of this country (a true democracy) by making war and depriving many of life and basic human rights."5 Let us not seek the light at the end of the tunnel. WE are the light in the tunnel. Let us unite to the causes that claim the value of Black lives, Latinx lives, LGBTQI lives, Muslim lives, women’s lives, Asian lives, undocumented lives. Let it be known that if we have learned anything, it is that the common language we speak is lucha (fight).
“Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?” May we ALL affirm once again our Baptismal vow to denounce injustice in whatever forms it presents itself. We call upon our young leaders to join the fight across our country, without putting at physical or legal risk the safety of our undocumented siblings. It is time to move from words to action. This is not about who is the President of the United States, but who we are and what we stand for as the Church of Christ.
In Christ our liberator,
M.A.R.C.H.A Youth Council
1 Gloria Anzaldua. Light In The Dark, Luz En Lo Oscuro. (Duke University, 2015) p.14.
3 Ibid., 14
4 Bishop Minerva Carcaño. http://calnev-email.brtapp.com/viewemail/1633323
5 Gloria Anzaldua. Light In The Dark, Luz En Lo Oscuro. (Duke University, 2015) p.21.