The Western North Carolina Conference Extended Cabinet Calls for Removal of Confederate Monument Adjacent to Mt. Zion United Methodist Church
July 6, 2020
As leaders of the United Methodist Church in Western North Carolina, we call on the Mt. Zion Monumental Association to remove its Confederate monument in Cornelius, North Carolina. This monument sits adjacent to Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, and the leadership of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church has asked that it be moved. We support their call.
Remembering the words of the prophet Micah, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?," we call on all our churches and congregations for deep reflective prayer and repentance, to seek equity, racial healing and understanding, and to love one another.
We call on Confederate heritage groups to work with towns, cities and counties to remove Confederate monuments from the courthouses, public squares and main streets of our country.
We oppose symbols commonly associated with white supremacy, like the Confederate battle flag and other Confederate symbols as they do not represent the values of a holy, just, equitable, and Beloved community. The argument that these monuments are simply a part of some people’s heritage is actually a reminder and legacy of the shame, hate, intimidation and degradation of a whole people. These monuments are memorials to efforts that sought to perpetuate a system of slavery that has been the most cruel, horrific and brutal in the history of the world.
Our country and society continue to struggle with the lingering effects of slavery and of white supremacy. This is particularly true across the Southern US. Most monuments to the Confederacy were erected during the Jim Crow era, and the historical record is clear that the monuments and the groups behind them had the purpose of promoting and maintaining white supremacy in a white southern society that was institutionally, legally and economically built around white supremacy and Black subjugation. It is time for these monuments to come down.
Our own Methodist tradition had its own struggles with slavery and racism, dividing over the issue of slavery in 1840. Our history also includes actively and passively honoring and tolerating Confederate monuments. In doing so, the Church helped perpetuate a deep societal wrong and brokenness. They also failed to clearly and boldly live and proclaim the Gospel message that Christ has opened the church to people of all ages, nations, and races. Our United Methodist Church still has miles and miles to go in embodying Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, justice, and peace. As Christians, we must always speak out and resist not only the present and historical wrongs, but also the symbols which glorify them.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." There are times when we are called upon to make the arc swerve. This is one of those moments.
A Statement from the Extended Cabinet of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church
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