Our community is in turmoil!  Our downtown is nightly filled with protests...as are the downtown areas of most major cities in our country.  As people, we share the anguish and frustration over the unnecessary death of George Floyd.  As leaders, we do not accept it.  As a Christian ministry, we believe it is important to clarify our beliefs and values regarding the disturbing issues our community is facing together.  We acknowledge the God we find revealed in the Bible is our guide in these matters.

First, we believe that all people were created in the Image of God (Genesis 1:26), and that in God’s economy our value for people should show no distinctions arising from race, culture, gender or socioeconomic status (Galatians 3:28). This means that all people, regardless of race, gender, beliefs, life circumstances or life choices are all of equal value before the God who created them.  As followers of this God, we aspire to reflect that belief in our words and actions towards others.  No one is a “second class citizen.”  Further, we especially seek to affirm this reality towards the African American community that has experienced unequal treatment, disrespect and injustice through much of the history of our country.

Second, we believe that God hates injustice and calls on His followers to “seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).  As such, we believe an essential element of our work is to actively seek justice for those who we serve as part of the ethos of our work.  Whether an inner city youth, a teen parent, a client in our counseling services, a trafficked young person or one of the many other people groups we serve, we are compelled to advocate for others in the face of injustice or oppression.

Third, we believe God hates the actions of those who promote violence (Psalm 11:5; Proverbs 3:31) and who spread disunity among our community (Proverbs 6:19).  As such, while we support the right of people to protest injustice and advocate for equality, we grieve the use of violence and disunity as unhelpful distractions from the cause of justice in our city or country.  Further, we condemn the actions of some who exploit genuine, peaceful protest of legitimate concerns with intentional efforts to transform those protests into violent riots.  By contrast, we believe we are called to listen to those who experience injustice and oppression, and seek non-violent and unifying tactics to bring about change.

Fourth, we believe in a God who loves all people (John 3:16), and seeks to bring reconciliation and peace (Romans 5:6-11) in all of our lives with Himself and with each other.  As such, we actively seek to love others in God’s name.  We strive to help people discover this God of love and His message of reconciliation and peace. We also strive to be agents of peace within our community.  Ultimately, we believe the God we serve is the best hope for reversing hatred, injustice, racism and many other ills that plague our relationships with each other.  Helping people discover that reality is the highest calling of mankind.

Finally, we testify that the world we live and serve in has much room to improve.  We are not naive or silent about the challenges.  We have seen injustice towards minorities firsthand.  We have seen abuse of power first hand. We have seen women and young girls traumatized and exploited in truly horrifying ways.  We have seen youth and families oppressed.  While we are grateful for and celebrate our many blessings, and the positive aspects of our community, we also believe our community can do better at creating unity, justice and equality for all of our members.  As such, we pledge to continue to work to be part of that solution.