Dear United Methodist friends,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ.
Early Sunday morning, vandals painted racist and misogynist graffiti on classroom trailers of Saint Francis United Methodist Church in Cary.
This is deeply disturbing to us all as people baptized into Christ and deeply committed to honoring all as beloved children of God. As we pray for the people of Saint Francis, we offer ourselves anew as Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation and peace.
This is the message shared with the Saint Francis family by Matt Murphy, the chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee. It is a good and faithful epistle for us all today. I add my “amen” as you add your own “amen” to this words and prayer. Let us be vigilant and unrelenting as we denounce and dismantle racism in all its forms as we faithfully witness for Jesus Christ.
As a member with you in the Saint Francis family, there are a couple of messages I would like to offer as we digest this disturbing news. First, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. Our spirit is irrepressible, as was immediately apparent and evident in the dozen-plus volunteers who, by the time 10:30 service ended, had eliminated all signs of the graffiti. On behalf of the Saint Francis family, I offer a sincere and grateful “thank you” to those volunteers who acted so quickly on our behalf.
Second, during a conversation I had today with Pastor Donna, she wisely observed that the unwanted attention we received from these vandals points out two things. The work being done at Saint Francis, particularly our efforts to address matters of race in our church and society as a whole, is being noticed. And unfortunately, we have a lot more work to do. While I am broken-hearted that these hate-fueled messages found their way to our walls today, I am grateful that the Holy Spirit will continue to direct, embolden and prepare us to address the issues in our church and society that divide us from each other and separate us from our loving God.
Finally, in his sermon today, Pastor Cameron pointed us back to the reading from Joshua, who tells us, “But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Nothing about today’s unwanted events changes who we are or what we do as members of the Saint Francis family. As a family, we will continue to serve the LORD, discovering Christ, and serving others. This means we will forgive and pray for those misguided young people; we will pray for continued healing in our church, communities, and world which each day seem further and further rent by divisiveness and hatred; and we will pray for God to direct us to His work.
Remembering the words the choir shared with us today at 10:30:
I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.
Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
Here we are, LORD. Put us where you need us to be, show us what you need us to do, and give us the courage to do it.
Peace to you,
Hope Morgan Ward