From Your Pastors’ Desk
We all know by now from the incidents in Charlottesville that hate groups are on the rise. According to a February report from the Southern Poverty Law Center there are 917 hate groups in our country. These are organizations that if you play out their ideology, it would mean genocide to certain people groups. That is, if you are of the wrong skin color, ethnicity, or religion, you don’t deserve to live. As Christian believers this is both repulsive, heart breaking and goes against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You might be thinking, “Well, we in South Dakota don’t have a race problem that is a southern problem.” As KSFY reported just this week, the KKK has had chapters across this state and every year a large number of Klan members attend the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Furthermore, just two years ago a group of American Indian elementary children attending a hockey game were shouted at with racial slurs and had beer poured on them. To this day no one has been held accountable for this crime of hate. But, most significantly, South Dakota’s history is based on a culture that believed people of European descent deserved the land over the native people that already lived here—it was their “destiny” as they say. This history contributes to unfair systems and cycles of poverty . Three of the top five poorest counties and the most food insecure areas in the country are on reservations in our state. So, yes we do have a race problem in our state, but that does not define who we are.
We cannot ignore this. We can’t stand idly by. We must stand up! We have to decide to be and do better. Therefore, our church is making a bold statement on the front of our building. A statement that says “We Choose Love” and we are going to do our best to love our neighbors (see picture below).
Our church received a grant from the South Dakota Faith in Public Life organization for these new signs. It was important for us to emphasize the word “choose” because we recognize that loving one another isn’t easy. We often disagree with one another and ignoring injustice is far easier, but we are taking the active choice to seek love.
To celebrate these new banners, we are having “Let’s be Neighbors” Sunday September 10th. This will be an exciting day of worship where we will be renewed in our commitment to love. We are also encouraging everyone to bring a friend; Someone you have always thought to invite to church but never did, or someone you miss having at church. Call them. Invite them. Offer to pick them up. After worship we will be taking a congregational photo.
We look forward to standing with you all in the work of Jesus Christ—that is loving our neighbors no matter who they are.
Pastor Bala & Pastor Cheryl Khyllep