02 Jun A Message from the University of Valley Forge
Dear UVF Community,
Over the past week, I have shared your experience of frustration, shock, and heartbreak. The tragic death of George Floyd became a tipping point in our country. This is not a new reality; the injustices against people of color have been embedded in the history of our nation since the beginning. Today I am reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 12:15 – “We mourn with those who mourn.” What we are seeing in our nation is a people in mourning because of their years of experiencing racial oppression and injustice. Black lives matter to God and to us, and we stand with those in our community who have experienced this oppression.
As followers of Jesus, we cannot accept this state of affairs. We must address injustice and take action. Addressing racial injustice has two parts: personal and systemic. Racism is first and foremost a heart issue. The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NIV). Personally, each of us must examine our own hearts, and we must face and repent for our own subconscious biases. Racism is a sin; you and I are sinful. We are not exempt.
The second part of addressing racial injustice has to do with systemic issues. This is where education is important. The legal and economic policies in our nation actively disadvantage people of color. These discriminatory policies are not just a thing of the past; they and their effects still exist today. These systemic injustices were built over centuries; they will not be torn down in one day. This work will take time and will require understanding the unique needs of your local community.
So, what is next for us as a community? How can we be a part of true and lasting change?
First, we must continually abide in God’s presence. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV). The fruit of personal heart transformation cannot happen apart from abiding in the presence of Jesus.
Second, we must educate ourselves. Do the work of researching and understanding the issues and root causes of systemic injustice, and how you might even be benefiting from these systems. Understand how these systems work so that you can vote for lawmakers who will bring about change.
Third, we must commit to action. Listen to voices with different perspectives than you, speak up for those who are experiencing injustice, and engage with change in your local community. Start by voting for leaders who will listen and make the necessary policy changes. If you live in Pennsylvania, the primaries are today. Find a local organization doing good work and support it. Partner with your church to bring healing and true peace in your community.
As an institution, we have not typically made statements like this in the past. Certainly, this time is different, and that is why we are making this statement.
We must commit to being a part of this process for the long-term. Let’s do the hard work of justice together.
David J. Kim
University of Valley Forge