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Dear clergy sisters and brothers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and all members of the Iowa Conference,
I am writing to you during this Holy Week with a word of encouragement and hope. I give thanks for the amazing ministry that each one of you has in the Iowa Annual Conference. Your deep faith and your fervent desire to share the love of Jesus with all of God’s children is making a difference in communities across the state.
At the same time, I lament with you the increasing violence we are witnessing across the country against those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. According to statistics compiled by the organization Stop AAPI Hate, roughly 3,800 hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been reported in the U.S. from March 2020 to April 2021. As you know, eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed at spas in the Atlanta area earlier this month.
Just yesterday, a 65-year-old Asian woman was attacked by a man in Midtown Manhattan who also made racist statements. The same day an Asian man was attacked in a Manhattan subway and was left unconscious. Hate crimes and violence against people of color must be confronted and denounced.
Please know that we value your presence and ministry in the Iowa Annual Conference and stand with you in this troubling time. We humbly acknowledge our complicity, whether through words, actions, or silence, in the racial discrimination that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced in the past and pledge to continue our work in becoming a fully antiracist conference.
For all leaders, churches, and ministries across the Iowa Conference, I would encourage you to check out the resources on our website provided by our Antiracism Team as they lead our conference toward equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging. To be antiracist means we promote policies or practices that oppose racism and racial bias and promote racial advocacy, education, and tolerance. For resources available to individuals and churches, go to https://www.iaumc.org/antiracism-resources.
As you and I make our way through Holy Week and read the passion narratives in the gospels, we relive once again the last days of Jesus’ life, how he offered up his life for you and me in order that all people might have fullness of life. At the Last Supper in the gospel of John, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, celebrates the Last Supper, then says these words, "I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know you are my disciples, when you love each other." May this be our witness to the world, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you today and in the days to come.