Statement on Anti-Asian Hate

We, the La Verne Church of the Brethren, called to continue the work of Jesus, condemn all violence, verbal or physical, against the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community.   More than 3,800 hate crimes towards AAPI individuals have been documented in the past year.  This violence towards our AAPI siblings, who are made in the image of God, is embedded in our nation’s history.  We lament this bigotry and call ourselves to continue the work of dismantling all forms of racism.

La Verne Church of the Brethren Statement on Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd

The La Verne Church of the Brethren strongly denounces the ongoing and senseless deaths of African American citizens and persons of color in our country. The deliberate hate crime committed against Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia on February 23, 2020 is the latest example of how racism and hate continue to lead to senseless death of African Americans with little or no accountability by the justice system or our society as a whole. Simultaneously, the death of Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020 at the hands of Louisville police and the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers in late May shows the continued disregard by law enforcement and the judicial system in our society when serving and protecting our African-American and minoritized communities. No clearer picture of this exists than the contrasting attitudes of the New York Police Department’s disparate treatment of White persons in a park who earned compassion and civility by receiving face masks, while people of color were being beaten for not social distancing just five miles away by the same department.

The La Verne Church feels that the continued ignorance of these issues is contrary not only to the laws of our land, but to the fundamentals of a Christian faith our leaders profess our country was founded upon. As a member of one of the three historic peace churches, this congregation strongly condemns not only the actions above, but society’s willing acceptance of these acts. 

The La Verne Church of the Brethren calls upon the churches of the Brethren denomination to stand with us to jointly condemn these acts and call out racial injustice in their communities. The La Verne Church calls upon our Brethren colleagues to continue to be guided by the 1991 Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans (Hayes, et al., 1991) that calls out “racism as a sin – a sin again God and against our neighbors – and mount a concerted effort to combat it” (p.3). The report then sets out 14 recommendations for the Church of the Brethren denomination to address racism and injustice by the Board and Congregations, in particular:

“We recommend that congregations stand in solidarity with black Americans and other victims of racial hate by speaking out against overt expressions of racially motived violence and offering assistance to its victims.” (p.5) 

The La Verne Church of the Brethren strongly condemns racially motivated hate crimes and the continued systemic racial injustices in our system that promote these and related acts against our African-American and other marginalized communities.

As a congregation, we are committed to the work of anti-racism and are in this work for the long haul, even when acts of racial injustice are not in the headlines.  We are committed to continual education of ourselves and others.  We are committed to participate in and stand in solidarity with racial justice coalitions locally and nationally.  We are committed to dismantling racism through our actions, words, relationships, and practices.

Reference

William A. Hayes, Chair Robert Allen, Jr. Sue Wagner Fields Kreston R. Lipscomb Marian Thornton Duane H. Ramsey (1991) Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans.  1991 Annual Conference Report. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Official Documents. The report from the Annual Conference study committee on BRETHREN AND BLACK AMERICANS was presented by William A. Hayes, chair. The report was adopted with one (1) amendment by the delegate body, which has been incorporated in the Report. 

La Verne Church of the Brethren Statement on Systemic Racism Effectuated through Voter Disenfranchisement

The La Verne Church of the Brethren denounces the actions taken by several jurisdictions to disenfranchise voters in the United States. The deliberate actions taken by some federal, state, and local governments to remove the votes of citizens in the national general election on November 3, 2020 have disproportionally disenfranchised citizens who are Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color, and are an example of systemic racism in our country.

The La Verne Church asks that the United States Congress passes legislation, such as the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019 (HR4), which updates and revitalizes the 1968 Voting Rights Act.  

In making this statement, the La Verne Church is guided by the Denominational 1991 Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans (Hayes, et al., 1991) that calls out “racism as a sin – a sin against God and against our neighbors – and mount a concerted effort to combat it” (p.3). The report then sets out 14 recommendations for the Church of the Brethren denomination to address racism and injustice by the Board and Congregations, in particular:

“We recommend that congregations stand in solidarity with black Americans and other victims of racial hate by speaking out against overt expressions of racially motived violence and offering assistance to its victims.” (p.5) 

As a congregation, we are committed to the work of anti-racism and are in this work for the long haul, even when acts of racial injustice are not in the headlines.  We are committed to continual education of ourselves and others.  We are committed to participate in and stand in solidarity with racial justice coalitions locally and nationally.  We are committed to dismantling racism through our actions, words, relationships, and practices.

References

https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-10-24/voter-suppression-clouds-2020-vote

William A. Hayes, Chair Robert Allen, Jr. Sue Wagner Fields Kreston R. Lipscomb Marian Thornton Duane H. Ramsey (1991) Report of Committee on Brethren and Black Americans.  1991 Annual Conference Report. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Official Documents. The report from the Annual Conference study committee on BRETHREN AND BLACK AMERICANS was presented by William A. Hayes, chair. The report was adopted with one (1) amendment by the delegate body, which has been incorporated in the Report. 

A Hate Crime Story

Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Once our church facility opens up again and you return to campus you will discover that during this time when we have moved our ministry to a virtual format, we have added security cameras to our physical plant.  In the past year we have had a couple incidents that precipitated this decision.  As members of this church family you have a right to know what has happened.

We have always had many people visit our church.  It is a beautiful building with lovely grounds.  However, this winter we saw an uptick of people coming to our campus who appeared to be scoping out the facility.  One man in particular took photos of all entrances into the sanctuary and when engaged in conversation shared his opinion that our church is part of the “Illuminati.”  We also had a rage-filled voicemail that was deemed a “hate crime” by the police.  The caller was angry about our church’s inclusion of all sexual orientations.  Then, after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, the California Council of Churches encouraged progressive churches who display support for racial justice on their building to have staff work remotely during the week of the presidential inauguration. We were told that this suggestion was based on credible threats.

These incidents led us to feel that cameras should be added for the safety of our congregation, staff and HeadStart children.  We thank the Property Commission for responding so quickly to make this possible.  A Security Task Team was formed and meets regularly to address safety, with a desire to not sacrifice welcome or hospitality.

Regarding the Hate Crime, we made the decision to ask that the case not be turned over to the District Attorney, but instead to ask the police to warn the caller.  The caller admitted to the Detective that he made the call.  The caller identified himself as a Christian man who was disgusted by our church’s message of welcome.  He felt it was his First Amendment Right to leave us that message.  The Detective informed him that it was actually classified as a Hate Crime.  The law enforcement officer told the man that the leadership of the La Verne Church of the Brethren had lived out our faith by warning him rather than asking for him to be prosecuted. In other words we were the ones who had continued the work and love of Jesus. The caller asked the Detective to pass on his gratitude to the La Verne Church of the Brethren for that decision.

When the Detective told me that story, I was so moved by the Detective’s understanding that we had lived out our conviction to follow Jesus.  In this time of polarization and hateful rhetoric, we want to keep our community safe from those who might mean us harm.  At the same time, we want the La Verne Church of the Brethren to be a place of faithfulness, welcome, belonging and transformation. 

CHURCH COUNCIL MEETING/ OCTOBER 18, 2020/ 10:00 A.M.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86265095982

Or Telephone: 1 669 900 6833

Please plan to join us on Zoom for our first-ever online Church Council meeting.

The packet of materials for the Council meeting will be emailed to you in advance.

If you are unfamiliar with how to navigate Zoom, click HERE for a tutorial.

If you do not have internet access or are not comfortable in that environment, let the church office know and we will send you a hard copy of the Council packet through the mail, along with information on how to phone into the meeting.

We have two items of business: a first-read of the 2021 budget that the Board has approved and a vote on the leadership slate for 2021. You will have an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and vote through the features on zoom. Those joining by phone will also have an opportunity to ask questions and vote.

But Council meeting will not be “all business” — we will also hear from the staff, celebrate together, connect with one another, and enjoy some musical and visual reminders of our life together. Please plan to join us!

–Laurie Schreiner, Board Chair