HMC’s Role in Confronting Racial Injustice in America
As followers of Christ, we uphold that diversity is God’s blessed design and that followers of Jesus are called to be changemakers for justice.
We mourn our congregation’s silent witness and complicity in racism in America. Too often we have failed to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and failed to walk in solidarity with Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other people of color who are marginalized.
We acknowledge that our predominantly white congregation has benefited from generations of slave and immigrant labor as well as policies and customs that prioritize and maintain the power of whiteness. These policies began with the displacement and erasure of Native populations, culture, and wildlife during European settlement of North America and extend from legal slavery to World War II internment and the criminalization of entire populations along ethnic lines and continue today through systemic racism and normalized bigotry.
Even as Hyattsville Mennonite Church holds dear the teaching of Jesus on peace and justice, we find our own history reverberates with historical injustice. During the 1950s, the church followed “white flight” from the District of Columbia, developing its first building just outside the city in a suburb with racial covenants and active segregationist policies. In recent decades, due to lack of relationships with those most affected outside our congregation, we have too often failed to challenge law enforcement and legal systems that imprison, deny citizenship, and provide unequal justice for poor and disenfranchised neighbors.
At the same time, we celebrate the progress in civil and human rights that has been achieved through the sacrifice of many activists and common citizens. We rejoice in the cross-cultural relationships and values expressed in and through our congregation.
We therefore pledge ourselves to recognize and work to address systemic racism through education, activism, building relationships, financial support, community organizing and advocacy with groups led by people of color who are committed to dismantling economic exploitation and white supremacy. We commit ourselves to action through the following steps:
Listening, building relationships with and seeking out perspectives of persons of color from within and outside our congregation to inform our work for justice. We commit to lifelong self and community education around issues of implicit bias, systemic racism, and white supremacy. Forming partnerships with churches and community-based organizations that represent historically marginalized communities to offer our financial support and advocacy. Seeking reparations for harmed groups through various forms of political activism, protest, directing finances and voting to influence policymakers and legislators. Following leadership from communities of color, we commit to using our talents and resources to address local inequities in systems such as education, healthcare, employment, environmental justice, housing, and criminal justice.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)
HMC congregational activities provide opportunities for confronting racial injustice in America. The HMC Racial Justice Group meets regularly to spur one another toward the goals of this statement and to discuss how we and our congregation can build hope for racial justice and equity for all God’s people. In 2019 the group identified a local, Black-led community organizing group, Life After Release (LAR). The group invites the congregation to seek justice for those caught up in the criminal legal system in Prince George’s County through LAR’s emergency aid, jail support, and court watch programs. Since 2017, Pastor Cindy Lapp and others have been involved in helping found and support the Congregation Action Network (CAN), “a network of faith communities in Washington, DC, and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs acting in solidarity to end detention, deportation, profiling, and criminalization of immigrants and demanding and upholding justice, dignity, safety, and family unity.” Other opportunities include joining in the work of refugee resettlement, fair-trade (Ten Thousand Villages), and cross-cultural and sister congregation relationships and projects.
adopted and affirmed by Hyattsville Mennonite Church, Nov 6, 2022