Response: September 2015 Issue

Responsively Yours: Be Not Weary in Well Doing

Responsively Yours: Be Not Weary in Well Doing
Missy Cunningham joined United Methodist Women members and community activists marching for racial and economic justice at Assembly 2014.

"Be not weary in well doing," says 2 Thessalonians 3:13 (KJV).

The work of racial justice has been part of the work of United Methodist Women and our predecessor organizations for almost 150 years. In 1952 we developed a Charter for Racial Justice Policies that was adopted by the national organization and commended for adoption and program focus for conferences and jurisdictions of the Woman's Society for Christian Service. The charter begins by affirming that "God is the Creator of all people and all are God's children in one family." This is our foundational understanding of why we work for racial justice and how it should be measured — all of us God's children and all of us in one family.

We have been operating with this understanding and seeking to put it in to practice in how we have lived, served, organized and advocated for more than 60 years. It might be tempting to allow a certain weariness to seep into our thinking when we realize how far we still are from achieving the kind of society in which insisting that Black Lives Matter is no longer necessary.

It might also be tempting to have a certain wariness about people who are only now becoming open to talking about and working on a new way forward toward racial justice — only now in the aftermath of Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore and Charleston. After all, we've been engaged in this work for a long time; it isn't always comfortable, and it can seem lonely and risky.

Instead of weariness or wariness, I want to encourage United Methodist Women members around the country to remember that we have had the advantage of working together — women of different races and ethnicities — over this long period of time. We've already learned a lot. Many of us have had conversations and experiences that made us feel a little vulnerable, and we have grown through them and because of them. We have seen some policies put in place that have had good results and some that have not worked out as we hoped or intended. So, United Methodist Women, we know a few things about looking at the reality around us to learn about the experiences of others and talking about our own experiences and about undertaking work for racial justice.

And we also know well that the work is not done.

In what will surely be seen by future generations as a catalytic moment, we have the opportunity to bring what we know to work for racial justice in a new era. Neither limited by what was achieved before nor by what was not achieved, we can work with new partners in the struggle, take a new look at our strategies and push for a society-wide reexamination of housing policy, voting rights, education policy, health care, policing, environmental protection and employment and other practical ways to build a more just society. Now is the time to bring what we know to a new engagement with the work in our beloved United Methodist Church and with the work in our communities, states and nation so that we can build systems that preserve the human dignity of all persons, created by one creator, all children in one family.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 8/30/2015 12:00:00 AM