December 05, 2014

The General Board of Church & Society identifies actions to take in addressing turmoil caused by grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York.

The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) has issued a United Methodist “call to covenant community.” The call, “Repent — Reconcile — Restore,” is in response to the community turmoil stimulated by grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York that exonerated white police officers who killed unarmed blacks. The social-justice agency also cited ongoing police violence in some communities as a cause for concern.

The statement was issued by the agency’s chief executive, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe.
In the statement, Henry-Crowe said, “United Methodists must be an example of social change by creating spaces of honest, faithful dialogue across differences and divides."
The statement cites the United Methodist Social Principles that affirm "those in rightful authority who serve the public, and we support their efforts to afford justice and equal opportunity for all people” (¶164F Book of Discipline).
The statement also acknowledges “the pain and death that black men and their families are suffering.”
United Methodists are urged to continue to seek racial reconciliation, and recognize and affirm the sacredness of all people.
The statement sets forth four areas of action:
  1. Evaluate law enforcement practices and legal policies;
  2. Establish independent citizen review boards when deadly police force is used;
  3. Improve economic and social systems, such as living wage and educational reform; and
  4. Work for justice through prayer and strong non-violent direct action against institutional racism.
Ultimately, the GBCS statement says the United States must change its criminal-justice systems from retributive to restorative. “A restorative system seeks the well-being of the whole community rather than retribution through punishment,” the statement explains.