By Rev. Keith Turman | 2021-12-17 | 3 min read

To make reparation is to repair something that is broken.

These days, we talk a lot about broken things. Life feels broken and out of sorts. It’s been almost two years. Way too long. We’re more than ready for life to get back to its sunny little self. A pandemic causes loss and pain that affects all of us in multifaceted ways, and every one of us has a story to tell. But this pandemic has triggered an unleashing of stories that must finally be heard—people of color are disproportionately affected—the darkness they regularly experience is the fruit of inequality and injustice. They have been waiting for a sunny day for hundreds of years. I don’t know what ‘way too long’ even means. A common and flawed response to the awakening we’ve experienced is, “I’m not racist. I have friends who are Black.” Truth is, our African American neighbors appreciate our friendship, but what they really want is equality—something they have never had. Ever. For them, life has always been broken.

The awakening prompted our church to action. In September of last year, the FUMC Reconciling Conversations Group, in collaboration with the Haywood County chapter of the NAACP, offered an eleven-week educational series entitled, Struggling with Race, Remembrance, and Reparations. The opportunity was created to help us grapple with historical injustices like slavery and Jim Crow—to deal with current issues like redlining and other practices that keep families of color segregated, in substandard housing, without quality education or training, and often on the outside looking in—powerless to effect change. As a result, the FUMC Leadership Team formed a Reparations Committee, charged with exploring possibilities—how can we partner with our neighbors to make a difference? The Reparations Committee has worked hard to establish a clear mission, meeting with African American leaders to share and listen and begin to dream of a path forward. The work has just begun. On Monday, November 29, 2021, the FUMC Leadership Team affirmed the following mission statement, and approved the formation of the Reparations Permanent Endowment Fund.

Reparations Mission Statement
First United Methodist Church of Waynesville, NC

“Considering the historical inequity of civil rights, social privileges, and economic opportunities resulting from the enslavement of Africans forcibly brought to this country, we of First United Methodist Church of Waynesville, NC find it morally imperative to engage in the divine work of reconciliation and repair of these historic injustices.
In this work we seek to cultivate relationships and partner with African Americans of Haywood County to help achieve their goals, strengthen community, and improve quality of life.
We will seek to advance the goals of our African American neighbors through increased interaction, careful dialogue with, and deep listening to our African American brothers and sisters. We will share the talents and utilize the resources of our congregation. Initiatives will include but not be limited to access to housing, educational opportunities, scholarships, and grants.
In all this work we will engage in prayer, study, and reliance on God’s grace to lead us and bless this endeavor.”

In this season of Advent, we hear Isaiah’s voice: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us…his authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace…he will establish and uphold [his kingdom] with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore.” Isaiah 9:2, 7

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