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Letter: Pastors call for healing, unity

Editor, Gazette-Journal:

We the undersigned pastors of our community stand united to share a message with you, our fellow citizens. We are deeply moved and concerned by the division caused by racism within our nation and community. We are equally aware that some have been drawn to respond to these issues in an inflammatory manner.

As a community, we are not devoid of the stain of racism. Having been established before the revolutionary and civil wars, Gloucester and its surrounding areas have been privy and part to more racial injustice than many care to admit. While we are not absolved of this history, we today carry the responsibility to ensure our future healing and unity.

We are all created in the image of God, are loved by Him, and have our own unique intrinsic value. Racism, hate, and the like mar the holy image in which we were made. Allowing hurt and the corresponding hate to drive our speech and actions ignores not only our initial creation but also the sacrifice that Christ gave to make us new. In Him, the stains of our sinful past are washed away and we find new family not joined by race or ethnic heritage, but by the shared grace of God found only in the cross of Christ Jesus.

To all those who have experienced the wounds of racism and injustice, we hear you and love you boundlessly. We, as the church, are here to listen and strive towards the healing that Christ extends to us all. We believe that this starts as we embrace and share our lives together. To that end, we offer ourselves and our churches as places of safety to foster open and honest communication and reconciliation that leads to integration.

To our entire community, regardless of color, race or ethnicity, we implore you to seek peace and unity as neighbors of one community. As we journey through reconciliation, we do this together as the united community of Gloucester. We ask you to weigh carefully, along with us, the emotional influences allowed to affect our community.

We hereby promise to compassionately listen and work towards healing in the areas of racism and injustice. As soon as the restrictions of COVID-19 are lifted, we commit to using our churches as resources to actively promote and pursue community unity. We as a community are stronger than the powers of racism and hate. We ask that you join in diligently praying for healing and unity. For in Christ we are all made one.

Pastor Mike Gray
Newington Baptist Church

Pastor Doug Nagel
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church

Pastor Bill West
Severn Church

Pastor Fred Weymouth
BridgePoint Church/The Fix Church

Pastor Chris McMillan
Providence Baptist Church

Pastor Laquan Green
LifeWell Church

Kathleen V. Price
Ware Episcopal Church

Rev. Wilbert Early Jr.
Dr. Gloria J. Savage-Early
Abundant Harvest Worship Center

Willie Dickerson
Union Zion Baptist Church

Jared Berry, Senior Pastor
Union Baptist Church

Rev. Vincent A. Pryor
New Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Pastor Kevin Thompson
White Marsh Baptist Church

Rev. Kristie Askew
Shackelfords Chapel United Methodist Church

Sven L. vanBaars
Abingdon Episcopal Church

Rev. Gregory Kandt
Church of St. Therese

Rev. Ken Waclo
Bellamy United Methodist Church

Fr. Jason Hess
St. Thomas Anglican Mission

Patrick O. Billups
Relevant Church

Rev. Dr. Kenneth F. Cramer
LightHouse Church

Pastor Bill Yomes, Reedswood Christian Church

Pastor John Pouchot, Petsworth Baptist Church

Pastor Mike Freeman, Transforming Life Church