In the early morning of October 12th a young African-American woman, Atatiana Jefferson was shot through a window while standing in her own home by a White police officer responding to a non-emergency (“welfare”) call from a concerned neighbor. The following blog is an open letter to Mayor Betsy Price of Fort Worth, Texas in response to the tragic shooting of Atatiana Jefferson and the larger issues of institutional racism which undergird this tragedy . - Bishop Mike Lowry
To the Honorable Betsy Price, Mayor of Fort Worth, Texas:
We are a wounded community. The needless and senseless killing of Atatiana Jefferson in her home on October 12, 2019 cries out for both justice and reform. The tragic and unjust police shooting of a peaceful African-American citizen by a police officer is not an isolated incident. The horror of her death must be seen in the wider context of racism in our home city of Fort Worth as well as across the United States.
These are but a few of the examples which lead me to believe we must confront the systemic nature of institutional racism in our city as well as our country. Click here to read the remainder of the letter.
Like so many others across the Greater Fort Worth area, our state and nation, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the recent circumstances that led to the tragic death of Atatiana Jefferson. To followers of Christ, Black lives matter, and, in light of this grievous incident, I am asking United Methodists in the Central Texas Conference, as well as people of faith everywhere, to join me in praying for Ms. Jefferson’s family, the city of Fort Worth and everyone involved in this heartbreaking situation.
But I ask that we as a people of faith do more than pray. Prayer is where we begin, not where we end. As such, I invite all to put their prayers into action through vigorous community engagement. Each community of faith in our conference is expected to be intimately and actively involved in the issues that matter in their particular mission field. The local churches of the Central Texas Conference simply must reach out to everyone with love, justice and mercy, regardless of ethnic, economic or social status. Engaging with our community is the heart of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. By being in active ministry and partnership with all members of their community (not just those they see on Sunday mornings), including people of color and local law enforcement, along with other city officials, we can more effectively address the issues that impact our communities as part of our efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. May the peace of Christ constantly rule our hearts and minds, especially during the upcoming days and weeks as all the facts of this tragic event unfold.
In response to ongoing humanitarian crisis along the United States southern border, and particularly along the Texas border, the episcopal leaders of the five United Methodist Conferences in Texas are calling for state and federal government officials to set aside party politics and deliver a solution which best reflects the fundamental values of Americans and Christians.
Bishop Mike Lowry, episcopal leader of the Central Texas Conference, recently reminded that we are all called as Christians and Americans to reach out in love to our sisters and brothers in need. Click here to read the full text of the statement.
Rev. Travis Franklin has been appointed to be new senior pastor at First UMC Grapevine; Rev. Louis Carr will succeed Travis as North District Superintendent effective March 1. Dr. Randy Wild will remove the interim tag and permanently assume the role of East District Superintendent on July 1. Click here or on the title above to read the full details.