How can we be silent? A letter from Ervin Stutzman and Elizabeth Soto Albrecht

How can we be silent as we turn our eyes away and ignore the poor and broken who lie bleeding in the street? How can we be silent when we’re called to heal and serve in the image of Lord Jesus who has stopped to wash our feet? None can stop the Spirit burning now inside us. We will shape the future. We will not be silent!

“How can we be silent?” by Michael Mahler

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Our hearts have been broken as we’ve watched racial tensions break out in violence on the streets of our nation, most recently in the cities of Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore. Like a cauldron of hot water finally boiling over, the deep frustration of continued injustices against communities of color have spilled into the streets. Too often these communities suffer from joblessness, substandard housing, poor education and an unjust law enforcement system. Police brutality against black men is fueled by racism coupled with the increased militarization of the police force.

As a church called to grow as “communities of grace, joy and peace,” we must not ignore the systemic realities of racism in our country. Racism dehumanizes both people of color and white people. Even if we live in communities far from the troubles featured on the evening news, we must not turn our eyes away. It is an injustice when people are systemically afforded privileges or discriminated against simply because of the color of their skin. We thank God for churches across Mennonite Church USA and beyond who have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with community organizations for justice and peace in the face of violence.

God calls us as a church to repent of:

  • Our own participation in perpetuating racism, whether directly or indirectly.
  • Our unwillingness or inability to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • Our comfortable ease and disregard for injustices in our own communities.

We are called:

  • To pray for peace while finding ways to speak against and undo racial injustices in our own communities.
  • To cultivate beloved communities of faith which serve as examples of the justice we espouse for our society and nation
  • To pray for our nation and advocate for justice in areas of housing, employment and education.
  • To help build a criminal justice system that sees inherent value in all lives and does not prioritize or discriminate against people in its sentencing policies.

As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to demonstrate God’s love to all whom God loves, regardless of the color of their skin. Let us pray that we may be faithful agents of God’s reconciliation in the world. We will not be silent……

In Christ,

Ervin Stutzman square

Ervin R. Stutzman

Executive Director






ElizabethSotoAlbrecht_2010Elizabeth Soto Albrecht


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16 thoughts on “How can we be silent? A letter from Ervin Stutzman and Elizabeth Soto Albrecht

  1. it’s been a while that I have been waiting and watching for MCUSA to come forth. May we grow bolder, stronger, and more consistent in creating justice, deconstructing oppression, and building wellsprings of hope. #blacklivesmatter

  2. This is so fantastic to read, so very inspiring. I, along with my husband and two adult children are praying for these things as well. We would also add prayers for the social injustices and intolerance faced by the LBGTQ community too, who face hatred and violence and inequality, even from the churches in this country who are supposed to be showing them the love and grace of Jesus.

  3. Thank you for your important letter calling for social justice. One cannot ignore, however, the work MCUSA has done to block social justice on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Our church, a beacon for peace and justice? Mostly. But if we take this overdue call for racial equality as an example, I only have another 4 decades to wait for an ernest letter from conference leaders imploring congregations to become a welcome, safe place for the LGBTQ community.

  4. What about this?
    As followers of God we are called to demonstrate her love to all whom she loves, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Let us pray that we may be faithful agents of God’s reconciliation in the world. We will not be silent……

  5. Amidst ongoing turmoil in MC USA regarding LGBTQ persons in our midst, I am grateful that our church has come to a consensus on matters of racial inequality and systemic racism. I am reticent to criticize the church for a clear word on the call for us to be engaged in matters of racial reconciliation simply because we still have work to do in other areas. There are areas of my life and faith where the answers aren’t quite as clear and the struggle remains. I’m glad that such a reality does not undo the things I get right from time to time as a follower of by the Spirit.

    1. Michael Danner, thanks!
      There’s no need to pit injustices and prejudices again one another. We need and can work to deconstruct oppressive systems and structures of marginalization.

  6. people are very quick to point the similarity between racism and gay rights, but they are not the same. Racism diminishes God’s image, Imago Dei. We are all made in God’s image and the fact that we are multi-racial is part of His Design and is shown in Revelation where representatives of all nations and languages will be at the table. Homosexuality just as racism also diminishes God’s image, since it excludes half of humanity in the sexual act and is not God’s design for human sexuality. Just as racism perverts God’s perfect design one could say that homosexuality as well perverts that image. So let’s not be so quick to draw a comparison between the two.

    1. Homosexuality excludes half? Where did you get those numbers?

      We are beings that want to communicate. Sexuality in all its forms is part of that desire. I’d say that admitting that we are sexual and desire communication [= old word INTERCOURSE] with each other is part of the image of God.

  7. Thank you for this statement, it is especially fitting for what Ferguson experienced.

    I noticed the brief reference to “the increased militarization of the police force.” These few words broaden the potential impact of the statement and identify the point where I expect our journeys and stories will increasingly intersect, no matter our color or place of residence.

    U.S. imperialism is brutalizing our society. We are going to need one another in the years ahead, we really are.

  8. Ervin & Elizabeth:

    Thanks for your visionary and powerful letter.

    In just a few simple sentences, you have put MC USA clearly on the side of those who have been marginalized or victims of ethnic and racial discrimination. While the understandable focus of your letter is on this country’s broken police-minority relations, you have also spoken out against racism as well as joblessness, substandard housing and poor education.

    At Goshen College, we are seeking to build an intercultural community, diversify enrollment and empowering students, faculty and staff to lead an intercultural transformation of the campus. And your words are a great source of support.

    Thanks for your encouragement as we all seek to create “communities of grace, joy and peace.”

  9. Thank you.
    I was waiting for a statement from the MCUSA against racial injustices even as I watched other denominations and their leaders come out quickly against the recent onslaught of violence against black lives. #BlackLivesMatter And I echo the chorus of believers here who know that injustice IS injustice, no matter the form, no matter the victim. Justice is intersectional. Injustice would have us pit one group of victims against another. Both can be victimized. Both can intersect.

    Now, only if MCUSA would be so bold as to specifically admit and name the ongoing systemic racial injustice in its own institutions, universities, and seminaries. Name the history of silencing Vincent Harding. Name the disparity between POC university and seminary professors and white professors. Work towards repentance in our own hearts and lives, especially as we call for repentance in the world.

  10. What if you wrote a letter that acknowledged and took seriously the movement of Black people throughout the country who are organizing against state violence and the systemic devaluing of Black lives? Part of working towards the transformation of unjust systems is paying attention to the people who are actually doing the work. They aren’t just “boiling over” with “racial tensions.” They are engaged in a powerful, intersectional movement for justice that places the value of Black lives at its center. Why do you not mention this movement at all, and only talk of violence in the streets? Here is a quote from the #BlackLivesMatter website (BlackLivesMatter was started after the murder of Trayvon Martin by three Black women, two of whom are queer): “Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”

    Can you imagine an MCUSA that could actually support a movement like this? Unfortunately, I can’t.

  11. I am confused why people are attaching their concerns about the rice prices in Brunei. This is an excellent piece and doesn’t need a lot of pork barrel issues stuck on it to draw away from the points of race in the article.

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