A pastoral letter following the presidential election

MCUSA-Logo

Ervin Stutzman is executive director of Mennonite Church USA

For many of us, this has been a difficult week. We’ve spent well over 18 months witnessing a bruising presidential campaign that has at different points, pulled back the veil of who we aspire to be and revealed bitterness, selfishness and hate across the United States. On the morning of Nov. 9, we awoke to face a future filled with uncertainty. Many sisters and brothers within Mennonite Church USA are afraid of what the results of this election mean for them. After the dust has settled, what will come of the threats and promises made in the heat of political fervor?

As the politicians prepare for a transfer of power, it’s time for Anabaptist Christians to take a deep breath — to remind ourselves of who we are and whose we are. We are Christ-followers. We are beloved and called by God, the One who deserves our undying loyalty. In the midst of political upheaval, we can sing with confidence:

We are servants of God’s peace, of the new creation,
Choosing peace, we faithfully serve with heart’s devotion.
Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace, confidence will give us.
Christ the Lord is our defense; Christ will never leave us.

(text by Menno Simons, 1552)

Our calling does not change with the vagaries of administrative office. Regardless of the one who occupies the Oval Office, we pray for all our leaders, seeking God’s grace, justice and peace in all our relationships. We strive to live with integrity, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger, caring for the weak, freeing the oppressed, boldly speaking the truth in love, and honoring one another as valued and beloved sisters and brothers in the body of Christ.

This week as I met with the executive board of Mennonite Church USA, I was vividly reminded of the contrast between the ways of this world and the way of Jesus Christ. Accompanied by the Racial Ethnic Council and others, the board was led in a moving exercise called The Loss of Turtle Island, exploring the damage wreaked upon Native Americans by the United States government and the church, fueled by the Doctrine of Discovery. Afterward, we discussed the use of power and authority in our church governance, and the subtle and overt ways that racism continues to damage our relationships in the body of Christ. We listened to concerns of people of color and recent immigrants, who feel particularly vulnerable in the current political context. I encourage all of us to redouble the commitments we made when we affirmed our Purposeful Plan, to “dismantle individual and systemic racism … develop intercultural competence … heal racial divisions … and value all the gifts of God’s diverse people.”

I am also mindful of the traumas this election season may have induced for survivors of sexual abuse and gender violence in our churches and communities. May we continue to work to transform our churches into a sanctuaries of support, justice and healing for those who are suffering. And may we strive for the healing of gender divisions between women and men, each one of us created in the image of God.

We have work to do. Regardless of our political loyalties, I urge us to channel our energy into the peaceful endeavors that will help to set things right in our broken world. “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word,” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).