From the District Superintendent

Heart Broken Over Charlottesville

Posted 21 August, 2017 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

      My heart is broken over Charlottesville.   I am writing you today from the mid-point of my vacation, to decry the blatant racism, white supremacy, neo-Nazism, violent intimidation, and senseless loss of life. With a grateful heart I give thanks for the faithful witness to Christ that was made by many disciples, including faith leaders from our district. I am mindful, too, of the many challenging conversations with family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors in which you have have borne witness to the gospel out of the public's eye.
       Today is the 31st anniversary of my father's death. He would be 97 had he lived. He served honorably in the Army Air Corps during WWII, a conflict dedicated to eradicating the very evil ideologies which have again taken root in our society. I sorrow for those who latch onto such hateful ideologies and pray that we may be used of God to show them another way, a way rooted in Jesus.
       If you have not already done so, please read and share Bishop Lewis's reflections (http://www.vaumc.org/ncfilerepository/BishopLewis/ReflectiononCharlottesville.pdf). I urge you to follow her lead: to pray, to witness, to preach, and to combat racism by being "vigilant in witness and peaceful in advocacy." Mark your calendars for the Convocation Race and Reconciliation scheduled for April 14, 2018
      Specifically here on the Roanoke District, during each charge conference we will remember our baptisms, giving us each the opportunity to again renounce sin and profess our faith in the Living Lord. The charge conference information (which will be given out to the clergy during the Clergy Summit on August 29) will include resources for local churches that can  be helpful both in engaging with the whole community and addressing the racism with is ever present in our congregations and communities.
     At our June Common Table meeting, plans were begun for a District Leadership event about engaging in conversations about hard topics (including racism) both inside and outside the church. Watch for more information about this during the fall.
We have much to learn from each other and the communities we serve. I look forward to learning and leading with you.