Voices from the World Council of Churches (WCC) global fellowship are speaking out strongly against racism and for justice in an ongoing show of solidarity and action. These voices are amplifying the idea of a “conversion that will end all forms of racism and racial discrimination” set forth in a 3 June World Council of Churches (WCC) Executive Committee Statement on Racial Justice in the USA.
Ms Dianna Wright, interim director of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Relations, Presbyterian Church, USA, said her desire is not just to participate, but to find a way to do something. “People are angry and rightly so, right? You just don’t know what to say. God is calling us to do something about it.”
Ms Anne Glynn-Mckoul, a WCC Executive Committee member from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East USA, said the US is in crisis. “The demonstrations are an explosion of rage at the systemic racism we have been watching becoming more and more overt,” she said. "Important witness has been given to the devastating effect on generation after generation. We need religious leaders today to be visible and audible, marching in solidarity with demonstrators, to be witnesses turning the tide against this eruption of white supremacy.”
Rev. Prof. Dr David Emmanuel Goatley, faculty director of the Office of Black Church Studies, Duke University Divinity School, North Carolina, USA, said black America has been trying to tell white America and the world that “we suffer from violent policing.”
“The tragedy that befell George Floyd in Minneapolis is really symbolic of the kind of suffering that so many black people face in the United States,” he said. “But it’s also representative of the experience of a number of black people as a whole.”
H.E. Archbishop Dr Vicken Aykazian of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin) USA, said he came from a country where minorities were marginalized. “Therefore, in this country, the United States of America, I do understand the struggle of our African American sisters and brothers,” he said. “Racism is evil. As Christians, we have to be the forefront wherever there is injustice.”
Rev. Dr Angelique Walker-Smith, senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World, spent days on the streets in the USA with advocates saying they’d had enough of racism. “All over the world, people of African decent and various racial and ethnic groups—those affected by hunger and poverty—are saying, “Enough!” she said. “We must have an inclusive vision to build up God’s kingdom and to be God’s kingdom.”
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, United Methodist Church (USA) and vice moderator of the WCC Central Committee, was born in and attended college in the southern US. “I saw the poverty and the way in which people were not treated fairly. And then I attended a segregated church and it pains me greatly to realize we have not eliminated institutional racism.”
Rev. Karin van den Broeke, who is from the Protestant Church in the Netherlands and serves on the WCC Executive Committee, said that people everywhere are still experiencing racism. “It’s the role of the churches to proclaim the message we hear from the Bible,” she said. “It’s from our faith that we know that we are all equal with each other.”
In the 3 June statement, the WCC Executive Committee reflects that much more needs to be done.
“With the African Methodist Episcopal Church, we affirm ‘Broken nations, broken health care and educational systems, political and economic systems ruled by racism, economic inequality, and the widespread practice of white privilege put people of color all over the world ’at risk.’ White supremacist business as usual, is no longer acceptable.’ ”