Commentary: R.I. religious leaders call for unity of prayer

Commentary: R.I. religious leaders call for unity of prayer

The Westerly Sun


The following statement was issued Thursday from the Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and the Rev. Dr. Tom Wiles, executive minister, American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island:

As leaders of majority-white churches in Rhode Island, we want to be clear: There is no place in Christianity, or in our country, for a belief that white people are superior or deserve preference and advantage over other people. White supremacy is sin. It rejects the teaching of the Bible and the traditions of the Church, teachings and traditions that our churches have many times failed to observe. Systems that perpetuate racial advantages for some and disadvantages for others are sinful. We must repent so that we all can be restored to a right relationship. God created us all, and because of that we are all of one family (Galatians 3:26-29). If one part of the family suffers, we are all suffering, for we are all children of the same God.

Over the [previous] weekend and the days that have followed, we have all seen the unmasking of long-hidden and often-ignored strains of racism and hatred of the other. We have seen self-professed Nazis carrying burning torches shouting slogans that we hoped had been consigned forever to history and insulting our Jewish neighbors. We have witnessed racially motivated violence, clergy peacemakers being beaten and spit upon, people being injured and one person dying. This is not of God. This fresh eruption of racial violence and hatred must be resisted by people of faith.

Our call to resist drives us to our knees in prayer. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that we as members of the Body of Christ contend with the principalities and the powers of this world (Ephesians 6:12-13). As people of faith we have been given authority over the forces of darkness and hate, but it is an authority that is expressed by loving actions and selfless service to people who are being rejected by the powers of this world.

Our response as members of faith communities is first to be clear in our rejection of racial violence and systematic preferment, and second to pray for God to bless the work of reconciliation that can repair the damage that has been done.

We call on people around the State of Rhode Island, in Christian faith communities small and large, to join us in prayer this weekend:

“God of all the nations, who created us of one blood, and who invites us all to be part of the Beloved Community; strengthen us to work for racial reconciliation and peace in our community. Use us to be peacemakers and to help restore all to right relationship to each other and to you. Give us wisdom when we speak and courage when we must act. We ask this in the name of your Son, our crucified and risen Lord, who conquered once and for all the evil powers and principalities of this world. Amen.”


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