Clyde-Kratz-feat

Raising Our Voices Against Racism in the Culture and in the Church

June 5, 2020
by Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister

George Floyd

The tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent events over the last week have caused me to engage in my own soul-searching about racism. I grieve the way it has not only permeated our history, our culture, and our faith community, but the way it has also been ignored, justified, or whitewashed, leaving people of color in fear and desperation at systems of injustice. As Executive Conference Minister of Virginia Mennonite Conference, I am sorry that I have not done more to address the issue of racism within our faith community.

As a nation, we are at crossroads. Our national leaders can determine a course of action to respond to the injustices that persons of color experience daily. We have entered a time when the horrible truth of unjust social policy, selective law enforcement, and the growing inequity between the majority population and people of color can no longer remain hidden. We have entered a period of public reckoning, and it is not pretty.

I want to state unequivocally that I am committed to making anti-racism a priority in Virginia Mennonite Conference. Prior to this current national crisis of racism and injustice, the Strategic Planning Task Force had completed their work and forwarded their recommendations to our Moderator, Elroy Miller. Conference Council will be reviewing it in June, prior to our summer Conference Assembly. Goal 4 of the recommendation reads:

To hear the voices and welcome the leadership of people of color, the differently-abled, women, and youth. The first objective in this goal is “Name the culture of Virginia Mennonite Conference that has historically privileged white men in leadership and tolerated systemic racism; and commit to building a diverse and inclusive culture.”

It is my hope that our Conference will embrace this goal as we envision our future together.

While this letter is my personal response as the Executive Conference Minister, I am inviting a group of five leaders in our Conference to draft an aspiration statement to be shared with Conference Council and our constituency by the end of June 2020. I believe that leaders within our Conference share an abiding disdain for the way people of color are marginalized, excluded, and harmed in our life together and in our communities. I hope that the aspiration statement they create will provide additional weight to the importance of moving forward with immediate responses to help change the direction of our culture.

I had the opportunity to join Glen Guyton, Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA, when he addressed “Bring the Peace” on Facebook Live on Thursday, June 4. I recommend that VMC credentialed leaders view his presentation.

Mennonite Church USA has also provided a statement on racial injustice with resources to assist leaders during this time of social unrest: .

The clarion call that cannot be missed by followers of Jesus at this time is to raise our voices on behalf of people of color in our faith community and society.

We are emboldened by the prophet, to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” We can hear the Apostle John recognize that when Jesus came into the world, there was judgment, “that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because of their evil deeds. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed” (John 3:19-20).

The light has come on for many people in our faith community and culture. The time has come to raise our voices for the good of all humanity in Christ-like ways.

Shalom,

Clyde G. Kratz
Executive Conference Minister