Bishop Ward and the Rev. Chris Brady appeared on WNCN Ch. 17 to discuss the Sacred Conversations: Black Lives Matter event scheduled for Jan. 28 at Duke Memorial UMC.
Check out any TV newscast or read the papers and blogs and it’s easy to see the division that sometimes exists between people of different races and nationalities.
The North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church is trying to lead true dialogue between different races and between law enforcement officials and the citizens they are sworn to protect.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and Rev. Chris Brady are here to tell us all about it. Welcome.
So Bishop, you aren’t just talking about these issues. You’re actually taking real action and you have a planning meeting this Tuesday?
BISHOP WARD: We do. We give thanks for the opportunity to give witness to the hope which we, and all people of faith bear, for stronger and more vibrant communities. We want to proclaim the great truth that every person is of sacred worth to God, every single person and we want to create safe spaces for courageous dialogue so that we might listen well to one another, so that people might gather who have all sorts of differences between them, but who can speak together, with the end being a stronger community, a more vibrant community, and a more life-giving community.
Rev. Brady, you have an event – Black Lives Matter. Tell us about that.
REV. BRADY: Sure. We are holding an event on January 28 at 6:30 p.m. called Sacred Conversations because Black Lives Matter and we thought it was important to open up a safe space for dialogue to occur. The church has a mandate and a calling to address issues of identity, issues of worth and individuals and to sometimes, step into the midst of sometimes muddy waters and allow people to have a safe sanctuary in order to have conversations. We recognize those conversations won’t be easy – there’ll be tension – but awareness is our goal and our desire and so we are hoping that we can forge and create an opportunity for folks to begin to make themselves more aware of what’s going on in our communities.
Is the public welcomed to come to attend this conversation?
BISHOP WARD: Absolutely. We invite any person to come who is interested in stepping into this space and having this conversation. We hope that we will have people of different races, different ages; we hope we will have people there coming from the law enforcement community so that we can truly have a dialogue and listen well to one another, hear one another’s stories, and grow in our deep appreciation for every person.
Wow. That’s very powerful. I think it’s very timely, especially for this time with so much going on. Are you hoping you’ll have younger kids coming and also adults?
REV. BRADY: For sure. We’ve invited a panel of persons who can speak to and address some of those issues – several professors from Duke University Divinity School will be present and we’ve also invited local churches and are going to be reaching out to the local police department as well. Hopefully, even the chaplains who help to negotiate and navigate the everyday conditions for those police officers to be invited in to have these conversations. So we are looking for diverse groups age category-wise because we believe that the younger generations are important to hear and also express themselves in an atmosphere that informs as well as lends value to their opinion.
Well this is important work and thank you so much for coming by to tell us about it.
BISHOP WARD: We believe that we are not yet the people that God has called us to be in fullness and it’s our great desire to continue to speak together and we hope that this gathering will be an example of what can be done in any community in North Carolina because the potential is there in any community for disruption. But the greater potential in any community is for the peace.