Letter from Conference Minister

A Pastoral Letter from the Illinois Conference Ministry Leadership Team

 

February 24, 2017

Sisters and Brothers in Christ;

We write to you today to address the confusion and chaos that is coming out of Washington D.C.
since the election and inauguration of President Trump.

We are well aware that there is a diversity of opinion among the churches and Pastors of the
Illinois Conference regarding this matter. In no way do we wish to convey that any individual or
church should think a particular way about these things. However, we do believe that we, as the
leadership team, have a responsibility to help the Illinois Conference think about how to respond
to what is going on.

It is impossible to address any particular concern or event as the controversies are coming too
quickly. Surely we can all agree that the beginning of the Trump administration has not gone as
smoothly as anyone had hoped, and that the flood of news stories is so rapid that it is difficult to
keep up with what the latest controversy is. And so, we ask that everyone take a moment to step
back and consider the following.

We are called to be the church, to care for the most vulnerable persons in our communities, to
preach the Gospel, and to call anyone and everyone to accountability to that Gospel. This is our
call and responsibility; no matter who is in the White House, or which political party is in power at
the time. Sometimes, that Gospel is difficult to hear and stands in direct opposition to the
prevailing political message or what seems to be the will of the people at any given moment. This
has always been so, and in times of great tumult, the church has often stood against the tide of
public opinion despite great pressure to do otherwise.

We are called to remember that our denominational motto is “…that they may all be one”, which
reminds us to be bridge builders, reaching across disagreements to seek where we have
common interests and beliefs.

We are called to remember that Jesus and his family were once refugees themselves, fleeing a
persecuting power. His religious faith taught him, and teaches us, that we are to welcome the
stranger, feed the hungry, and care for the widow and orphan. When we do these things to the
least, most vulnerable in our society, we do them to Christ himself.

We are called to remember that the race that is set before us is a marathon, not a sprint. We are
called to engage in careful reflection, excellent self-care as individuals and as communities of
faith, lest we risk burning ourselves out.

Lastly, we are called to remember the Great Commandment; that we are to love God with all our
heart, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. This simple, Sunday-school lesson is at
the heart of the Gospel, and will be the only thing that keeps us from allowing our society to tear
itself apart.

We know these are stressful times; that the pressure on you is great, and that the struggle to
maintain the truth of the Gospel, and the peace of the church, while speaking the truth in love
seems an impossible task. We are praying for you, and, in collaboration with the national church,
are working on ways we all might find to respond more actively to all of this. Please do not
hesitate to contact any of us directly to speak about these matters if you need us. We are here
for you. Please take care of yourselves.

Jorge, Vertie, Tom, Kathy, Jim, David, Bill and Larry