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