By Keith Boyette
March 23, 2021
Since the announcement of the emergence of the coronavirus and its spread globally in early 2020, those of Asian ethnicity have been the targets of racism, acts of violence, discrimination, harassment, and derogatory statements. Acts of violence, including murders and assaults, have escalated recently. The Wesleyan Covenant Association condemns all such conduct. Such acts are sin, devalue the dignity of persons created in the image of God, and are contrary to the core principles of the Kingdom of God.
In its Statement of Moral Principles, the Wesleyan Covenant Association declares, “We believe that all persons are of sacred worth…. The WCA specifically renounces all racial and ethnic discrimination and commits itself to work toward full racial and ethnic equality in the church and in society.” We value each person graced with life by our Creator God. The human family is diminished whenever one of its members is attacked, harassed, treated as less than others, or singled out for harmful treatment.
Paragraph 202.1 of the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline of the Global Methodist Church affirms, “We believe all persons irrespective of their station or circumstances in life have been made in the image of God and must be treated with dignity, justice, and respect. We denounce as sin racism, sexism, and other expressions that unjustly discriminate against any person (Genesis 1-2, Deuteronomy 16:19-20, Luke 11:42, 19:9, Colossians 3:11).”
The character of Jesus within us recoils with abhorrence at any act that seeks to stereotype, objectify, or dehumanize any group of people. Our mission continues to be one of drawing near to diverse people so that we all can draw near to God. We are richer because of our embrace of others. We are blessed when others with different societal and cultural backgrounds are present at our table.
Affirming these principles is necessary, but more is required of us in this current season. Prejudice, bias, hatred, and racism is never justified, must always be called out, necessitates our intervening to shield others from harm, and requires each of us to stand with those who are its target calling out speech and acts that overtly or subtly embody such racism.
Here are concrete steps we can take to stand with our Asian sisters and brothers in this time:
- We can speak affirmatively and work to establish the character of our churches and communities to ensure that each person is uniquely valued and loved.
- We can model in our conversations and writings the use of words that respect and affirm one another rather than words that stereotype and seek to define persons as “other.”
- We can reach out to those subjected to racism, bias, prejudice, and discouragement to encourage them with our love and presence, and to confront such acts with our witness to the character of Christ.
- We can accompany our Asian sisters and brothers in their journeys to communicate to others that they are highly valued and to contribute to their safety and well-being.
- We can intervene where we encounter others contributing to environments that deny persons their dignity so that we identify what is occurring and remedy the attempted harm.
To those in the Asian community, you are valued by God and each of us. We celebrate your uniqueness. We refuse to stereotype you. We condemn efforts by others to do so. We covenant to work with you so that we might experience a community where you are affirmed, loved, valued, experience security, and flourish.
Keith Boyette is president of the Wesleyan Covenant Association and chairman of the Transitional Leadership Council of the Global Methodist Church (in formation). He is an elder in the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church.