“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of us speak the truth
with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25
We, the undersigned pastors of the Hopewell Borough, collectively bear
witness to the pain, shock and horror of the unfolding racial events that
are taking place in our nation and more recently here in Hopewell. In the
midst of all this and the tension that now grips us, we have been praying
constantly—prayers of lament and prayers of confession, prayers for our
country and particularly prayers for our community. Through our prayers
and conversation, we believe that as a community of faith we are called to
continue to witness and follow our calling in this moment: “to hate what is evil and to cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
So we, the undersigned, condemn the sin of racism as we do with evil in all its forms. Acknowledging the pervasive nature of sin, we recognize that this sin exists even in our beloved community of Hopewell. We were reminded of this when we heard the news of the suspension of several police officers due to an alleged mischaracterized reference of the Black Lives Matters movement and other alleged racially induced innuendos.
As we were reminded of this, we not only saw the effects of sin but also the repercussions of a lack of honest dialogue. We recognize that for an extended period of time in America, having an honest discussion about race
related issues has proven to be difficult. We understand that healthy race communication can bring up intense and powerful emotions as a result of a diversity of opinions and experiences. We see the ways in which the
difficulty of these conversations has led to deepening of divides and the further hardening of hearts and biases. For some, this is manifested as a result of a lack of empathy and understanding and for others apathy
We believe that skillfully handled dialogue can improve communication, increase racial literacy, and expand the critical consciousness of one’s racial/cultural identity ultimately leading to a more just, loving, faithful, and unified community.
Based on these realizations, we, the undersigned, work to “cling to what is good” by committing to work to promote healthy discussions about race–not only in our respective houses of worship, but also within the broader community. We commit to do our best as leaders to model healthy dialogue and to develop forums and community opportunities to safely engage in discussion, transforming age-old stereotypes and unproductive rhetoric.
Finally, we endeavor to bear the prophetic witness to the oppression of all and share the transformative power of the good news in a way that leaves room to support all, bear all, and love all.
Rev. Dennis M. O’Neill Jr., Pastor Calvary Baptist Church
Rev. Melissa A. Martin, Pastor Hopewell Presbyterian Church
Rev. Gregory Smith, Pastor Second Calvary Baptist Church
Rev. Laura Steele, Pastor Hopewell United Methodist Church
Rev. Msgr. Michael J. Walsh, Pastor St. Alphonsus Catholic Church