Pastoral Statement from The Possibility Project:

As of June 2017, we (Sophie & Jared) serve on the pastoral staff of The Possibility Project. As pastors, we understand we have a responsibility to shepherd and guide our community in conversation and action, particularly during troubling social and cultural moments. In response to the events at Charlottesville and the ongoing presence of white supremacy in our country, we offered this pastoral statement, which was originally shared on our Facebook page. 

As a church under the umbrella of the Church of the Nazarene, The Possibility Project affirms our new denominational statement which speaks against discrimination of all forms:

“Therefore, we renounce any form of racial and ethnic indifference, exclusion, subjugation, or oppression as a grave sin against God and our fellow human beings. We lament the legacy of every form of racism throughout the world, and we seek to confront that legacy through repentance, reconciliation, and biblical justice. We seek to repent of every behavior in which we have been overtly or covertly complicit with the sin of racism, both past and present; and in confession and lament we seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Further, we acknowledge that there is no reconciliation apart from human struggle to stand against and to overcome all personal, institutional and structural prejudice responsible for racial and ethnic humiliation and oppression. We call upon Nazarenes everywhere to identify and seek to remove acts and structures of prejudice, to facilitate occasions for seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, and to take action toward empowering those who have been marginalized.

As followers of Christ and pastors of this local church community, this is our effort to put the new manual statement into practice within our particular context, as we “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14).

We renounce...

Our community firmly rejects the racism, anti-semitism, bigotry, and white supremacy on display in Charlottesville as antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we recognize that this is not an isolated incident and that we must continually call out both specific instances and harmful structures.

We lament...

Our community grieves the violence in Charlottesville and the deaths of three people. We lament the pervasiveness of racism, anti-semitism, bigotry, and white supremacy in our church and culture and the failure of our church to more boldly speak and act against it. We cry out to God, knowing that God is grieved and holds our grief.

We repent...

Our community repents of our complicity in racism, anti-semitism, bigotry, and white supremacy. We recognize that, in varying degrees, we are tied to a racialized history and benefit from systems that prioritize whiteness and oppress people of different race, color, gender, and creed. We admit that we carry bias and prejudice in our hearts and thoughts. As we become more aware, we continually repent of our sin and change our attitudes and behaviors accordingly.

We identify and seek to remove acts and structures of prejudice...

We commit to evaluating our community’s beliefs and practices in order to resist racism and privilege.

We facilitate occasions for seeking forgiveness and reconciliation...

We commit to a posture of humility, asking for forgiveness in public and private forums from those we’ve hurt and moving toward reconciliation in partnership.

We take action toward empowering those who have been marginalized...

We commit to the following actions:

  1. Being in prayer so we may always be led by the Spirit of Life.

  2. Proclaiming in word and deed the gospel of love, peace, life, and justice over and against the anti-gospel of hatred, violence, oppression, and division.

  3. Participating in anti-racism training and educating ourselves on systemic injustice, while learning from and elevating voices on the margins.

  4. Collecting and creating racial justice resources to share with our church, district, and global church.

  5. Financially supporting racial justice efforts led by those who have typically been disempowered.

Don't Start a Non-Profit

When confronted by the reality of social issues, it's a natural reaction to want to get involved. And we are indeed called to respond! Yet we need to respond smarter. At this point, the answer isn't always a new organization or a fresh fundraising campaign. Damage can easily be done by taking our good intentions and moving too quickly. When you feel a prompting to respond, slow down. Find and listen to who is already involved. Many groups have invested deeply and built roots over the years. They've built relationships that create sustainable change. They have wisdom and knowledge and experience that allow for effective transformation. Learn from them. Support them. Let's work together.

Here's a short introduction to the anti-trafficking work done by Restore International. 

[Well done Chadwick Gantes on a beautiful video. Check out his work here: http://gantes.co]

Scripture: Luke 4:16-18

And he [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

Further Exploration:

Read When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...And Yourself

Knowing Those Who Suffer

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Our comfort becomes a sin when we fail to know those who suffer. The more we know people, the more we will love them. Knowing someone changes them from a statistic into a human with a story…into a human with thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams. This is impossible to do solely through online giving and charity handouts. 

It happens through handshakes and shared meals. Through breaking our stereotypes and false expectations.  We need to know people who suffer. I cannot allow myself to become insulated to the point where I fail to give, fast, and pray. Where I fail to ask God for my daily bread, because I believe I can provide it for myself.  The luxuries of being able to buy what I want when I want it slowly choke out the God alive in me that desires to feed, clothe, and commune with my neighbor.

Do you know those who suffer?

Do you give?

If you suffer, do you allow yourself to be known?

Scripture: Luke 14:13 (NIV)

 "But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind."