World figure, Russian leader, and winner of the 1990 World Methodist Council Peace Award recipient, Mikhail Gorbachev, has died at the age of 91. The Council joins the many people around the world in remembering this influential man who worked diligently as he broke the mold to work for peace for his country and the planet. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Gorbachev was often revered more by others in the world than the citizens of his country.
Gorbachev reinforced persuasively the notion that dialogue is always preferable to war. He was cited for his contributions to human understanding, international stability, and a changing world.
In a joint message on gender-based violence, sexual abuse, and faith communities, 26 World Council of Churches (WCC) Thursdays in Black ambassadors lament that the scourge of sexual and gender-based violence continues unabated—and call on faith communities to prevent such violence in their own spaces.
“As ambassadors for Thursdays in Black, and in our various leadership capacities, we have witnessed the increase in domestic and gender-based violence, including child marriage, in many countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, arising out of necessary movement restrictions and economic uncertainty,” reads the statement. “With the rise of digital communication, there is increased online sexual abuse and harassment with devastating effects on individuals, families and communities.”
The statement urges us all not to be silent. “We lament that far too many times, those who bravely come forward to share their stories are not believed, are shamed, are blamed, or are ignored,” the text reads. “Too many times we have seen victims silenced and perpetrators unpunished.”
The ambassadors note that they are heartened by the global growth of the Thursdays in Black movement and the visible solidarity shared across faith traditions to overcome rape and violence.
“We call on our faith communities to take the next step in practical action to ensure such violence does not happen in our own spaces,” the statement reads. “Following the WCC central committee recommendation, we invite all faith communities to state their commitment to overcoming sexual and gender-based violence, clearly and publicly, including the policies and steps they will take when abuse is reported.”
Access to support and justice for survivors must be integrated in our responses, the ambassadors urge.
“We welcome religious and theological reflection and education which interrogates our holy scriptures on the relationships between men and women and masculinities and femininities, our understandings of gender and gender identity, and our relationships with all people as part of humanity, the text concludes. “We encourage all people of faith to join us in Thursdays in Black to raise awareness and advocate for a world without rape and violence.”
The World Methodist Council (WMC) joined religious leaders, civil society organizations, and
governments in condemning the coordinated attack on worshippers at St. Francis Catholic Church.
According to the latest reports, as many as 50 may be dead, including children, and scores are wounded.
Bishop Ivan Abrahams, General Secretary of the WMC, said: “Gunning down innocent people
celebrating the Feast of Pentecost is a cowardly and sacrilegious deed.” He further expressed
condolences to the bereaved families and called for prayers for those wounded in the attack.
The WMC notes the increased number of attacks and kidnappings by armed groups, especially in the
northeast of Nigeria, where more than 40,000 have been killed and more than a million people
We urge the Nigerian authorities to act decisively in apprehending the perpetrators to see that
justice is done through the courts
Bishop Michael Stephen of the World Methodist Council Steering Committee and former Archbishop of the Methodist Church Nigeria shares the following from the latest news of the kidnapping of the Prelate alongside the Bishop of Owerri Diocese Dennis Mark and the Prelate’s Chaplain, The Very Rev. Shittu, which was received with great shock and sadness when it happened.
“We are thankful that God heard the prayers of the people that went out across the country. After about 24 hours, the news of their release rent the airwaves.
We all are thankful to God for his intervention. This incident points to the state of insecurity that has enveloped our country and the need to request the prayers of the people of God all over the world for divine intervention in the affairs of Nigeria.
We are grateful for the prompt statements and concerns from the World Methodist Council, Africa Methodist Council and other Ecumenical partners.”
President of the World Methodist Council, the Rev. Dr. JC Park, added, “Let’s praise God who rescued the beloved Prelate just as King David praised God when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies. ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so I shall be saved from my enemies.’ (Psalm 18:3) We want to join the joyful praise of our Nigerian people called Methodists: Worthy is the Lamb!”
The General Secretary of the World Methodist Council called on Methodists to join prayers with the
community of Uvalde, Texas. He expressed his deepest condolences with the bereaved families and
those injured in the shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School.
According to the Washington Post more than 311,00 students experienced gun violence at school since
the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.
The shooting on Tuesday comes only 10 days after 10 people were killed in a hate crime in Buffalo, New
York. (See statement of AME – Council of Bishops) Abrahams called for “decisive action to protect the
innocent and curb gun-violence”.
The World Methodist Council join with all people of goodwill calling for an end to violence, especially against children.
Put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness.
The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with the families of the Buffalo 10 and the grieving community as we raise your lament and demand justice. We are outraged. We are grieved. As we move out of Easter, into the Ascension, and onward to Pentecost, we will not continue to be snuffed out in silence. Things must change.
Once more, the Black community in the United States has been the target of murderous terror. On May 14, 2022, a hate-filled man set out to execute a premeditated white supremacist plot to “shoot all Blacks” at the Tops Friendly Markets grocery store on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo. Before he was apprehended, this man killed ten people: Aaron Salter, Katherine “Kat” Massey, Pearly Young, Heyward Patterson, Celestine Cheyney, Roberta Drury, Margus D. Morrison, Andre Mackneil, Geraldine Talley, and Ruth Whitfield. Ruth Whitfield was a former member of Union AME Church, Warwick, New York before moving to Buffalo, New York. Gunfire and the direct aftermath of this rampage injured three others: Zaire Goodman, Jennifer Warrington, and Christopher Braden.
Today, we pray that the families of those killed, the Buffalo community, those ministering directly to the community in this season, and all of us now grieving would be comforted. We thank the members of the Connectional African Methodist Episcopal Church who have supported Bishop Julius McAllister and Presiding Elder Paul Thomas. Since Monday, the Connectional Health Commission, the Bishop Henry McNeil Turner Connectional Chaplains Association, and the Council of Bishops have provided ground support, counseling, medicine, and other provisions for the residents of Buffalo.
While we express our heartfelt condolences to the families of those massacred, we also grieve, sharing in the deep sorrow and anger of the families and the Buffalo community that are changed forever through this horrific act of violence. This despicable act causes us to relive our collective pain of the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Given the killer’s detailed preparation and documentation, we know that all of us who are “Blacks” by his standards would have been suitable targets. We also know that this killer acted according to a virulent form of white supremacy rapidly shapeshifting to remain endemic and meet white Americans’ interests. Consequently, we respond to this violence as those who are under attack. Therefore, today, we pray that God will dismantle every act of antiblackness in whatever form it may come and give us the wisdom and courage to fight and win in this cause.
As we gird ourselves for this cause, we highlight the following aspects of the Tops massacre:
- The shooting took place in Buffalo, a city that was a beacon of light for that fleeing enslavement before the Civil War and lynchings and economic exploitation in the 20th Century through the Great Migration.
- The internet provided the shooter with a radicalizing white supremacist community; the shooter publicized his hateful beliefs and actions using public platforms. The shooter is one of a growing number of people in the United States who believe in a conspiracy called ‘the great replacement theory.’
Finally, we call on anyone with a moral conscience to respond to this call to acknowledge and dismantle white supremacy. We no longer live in a time when it is considered shameful to be racist. White supremacist fringe groups have risen to the mainstream of the Republican Party, and media outlets have normalized hate. Certain parts of the “Christian” church have been used to promote a so-called Christian Nationalism or Supremacy that promotes hatred in the name of God and suggests that a concern for the least of these is antithetical to the gospel. The time is now and must be used creatively to do right and tear down the cathedrals built for the worship of antiblackness and all forms of hatred.
The Council of Bishops
Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, President of the Council of Bishops and Chair of the Social Action Commission
Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop
Bishop Paul J. M. Kawimbe, President of the General Board
Bishop Francine A. Brookins, Chair of the Public Statement Committee
Mrs. Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director/Consultant of Social Action