First of all, let me offer the condolences of this synod to Heather Heyer’s family and to the families of Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M.M. Bates, the two troopers who also died Saturday in Charlottesville.

This weekend white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville carried torches, flags with swastikas, and Ku Klux Klan symbols, shouting fascist slogans like “Blood and soil,” “F*** you faggots,” and “Jews will not replace us.” A car plowed into the crowd. A woman lost her life.

Two groups clashed this weekend. One of those groups was waving swastikas. There is not a lot of middle ground here.

Racism is sin, one we know all too well in this country.

We have been down this road before. We know where racism leads. We know where Nazism leads. We know where white supremacy leads. They lead to death camps, holocausts, slavery, extermination of native peoples, and whites-only drinking fountains. They lead to a dead end.

In Galatians 3:28, Paul states unequivocally what Jesus’ ministry meant: there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, in Christ’s way, all are one. The church of course has often failed living fully into this vision, but this is nevertheless what we proclaim: a world without walls of racism, sexism, or classism – a world without walls of xenophobia.

We are called to proclaim and live this vision of hope – the beloved community. This is the world Jesus envisioned. It is God’s dream for the world, and ours too. Let us live out that vision by embracing our neighbor across lines of race and ethnicity. Let us live out that vision by loving even our enemies – today, for the sake of the world.

Bishop Michael Rinehart