Antiracism Statement of the HMC
Houston Mennonite Church believes God is alive and well in the movement to dismantle racism in America and the church.
This good news is central to who we are and are working to become. This movement of God is something we cannot ignore. In response to George Floyd’s murder and to God’s call on our lives, we feel strongly that now is our time to work for racial justice in the church and world. We invite you to journey with us on the path to becoming an antiracist congregation.
We have chosen to stand firmly in the antiracist stream of Christianity. The abolitionist movement, the prophetic Black church, the civil rights movement, and liberation theologies all inform our commitment to antiracism. Our celebrated ancestors include Mennonites who in 1688 wrote the Germantown Petition Against Slavery, the first antiracist abolitionist statement from European settlers that acknowledged racist oppression in the colonies. We affirm that our denominational priority is “undoing racism and advancing intercultural transformation.”
We believe Jesus’ life and ministry form the foundation of the Christian commitment to antiracism. By Jesus we are called to love God and all people, no exceptions. As a Jewish prophet Jesus dedicated himself to the liberation of all people. He confronted hierarchy, clashed with political leaders, disrupted unjust systems, subverted norms, defended the vulnerable, and expanded God’s blessing to all people. He believed everyone was created equal. Yet Jesus treated people differently based on the social realities that privileged some and harmed others.
We confess that the systems of oppression crafted by the church against the Jewish people were and are a fundamental element of systemic racism. We recognize that by rejecting the Jewish people and attempting to appropriate their identity, the church has betrayed Jesus himself. And we note that the denial of Jewish humanity and dignity laid the groundwork for the oppression of many other peoples. The Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny were used by Christians to commit genocide against Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge that our church building and our homes stand on the ancestral land of the Karankawa and Atakapa peoples.
We lament the foundational racism of American Christianity. America’s original sin was and remains the kidnapping, subjugation, and enslavement of African people. The harms done by this sin persist into the present day. More painfully, through slaveholder religion and theological defenses of racial hierarchy, Christianity has been used to excuse slavery. Racism thus pervades our culture and our history, and we have been as Drew Hart says “devastated by the legacy and contemporary practice of white supremacy and Christian supremacy.” We cannot ignore that Christian theology, white privilege, cultural systems, and church institutions have all been weaponized against marginalized peoples. There can be no racial reconciliation without racial justice.
We commit to antiracist discipleship, preaching, public witness and congregational culture both as a church and as individuals. None of us are free from these sins until all of us are free.