January 9, 2022
Dear Iowa United Methodists,
I am writing this afternoon following news of a bomb threat at Burns United Methodist Church in Des Moines; the threat is currently under investigation by local law enforcement.
Burns United Methodist Church (a Historically Black Church) is the oldest multi-cultural church in the state of Iowa and takes its name in honor of Francis Burns, the first Black Bishop of Episcopal Methodism. From its formation in 1866 by Black residents, the congregation’s ministries have focused on love of God, love of neighbor, and a commitment to justice, mercy, and outreach ministries.
While we do not yet know the details of the bomb threat emailed to local law enforcement, this comes at a time when racially motivated hate crimes are on the rise locally and nationally. Racism has rightly been called America's original sin, sin that continues to breed acts and attitudes of hatred. As Iowa United Methodists respond to this morning’s news, our efforts must be constantly led and accompanied by prayer, even as we work with people of faith and community leaders to engage in concrete action to dismantle hatred in its many forms.
Please Join Me In Prayer for Burns UMC and Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Thompson
Holy God, it is in your image that all humankind is created. This very day in our churches we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, which launched his mission and ministry of “Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.” As co-workers in these efforts, we are reminded that in our own baptisms we are called to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness and reject the evil powers of this world by resisting evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
Wickedness has presented itself today in the form of a bomb threat made against the people of Burns United Methodist Church. Hate has been visited upon your church and neighborhood. Sacred, holy space and our sense of safety in the sanctuary have been violated. We pray for all those connected to Burns, and for all who feel vulnerable at this news. We pray that as followers of Christ, we will be able to join in working together with and for all who are similarly oppressed and targeted, knowing that an attack against one is an attack against all.
God, you created a beautiful and diverse world; we celebrate the many cultures of Iowa and honor the richness each brings to our collective whole. Show us Holy One, how we can strengthen our relationships and support one another. May we be intentional in our work toward racial justice throughout the church and at all levels of governance.
Most important, dear Lord, in light of this act of violence and hatred, may we be strengthened in our commitment to justice, equity, diversity and belonging as people of the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Strengthen our resolve to pursue justice and empower us by your Spirit for the work of racial-justice, restoration and redemption as we bear witness to Christ in this world. And, may the shelter of your presence and peace rest upon Burns United Methodist Church and all who are unsettled by the news of this day. It is in your holy name we pray, Amen.