Excerpts from a message from the Office of Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, in response to the recent shooting deaths in Metro Atlanta GA and violence targeting those of Asian heritage. (CLICK HERE to read the full letter.)
March 25, 2021
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory for the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders, you shall call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
Isaiah 60: 1-3, 18
We remain in the season of Lent, a season that includes soul-stirring reflection, examination, and lamentation. There is a rich history of lament within the Christian tradition. Christ lamented as he hung on the cross crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” During these times, we are reaching within the deepest recesses of our souls and asking plaintive questions.
As I am confronted with the horrific shooting rampage in Atlanta and the deaths of eight people, I must also confront the long history of violence against Asian Americans. When I reflect on this tragic history, I lament.
Often the best demonstration of solidarity is to listen to those most deeply affected. May we receive their sharing as a sacred gift and respond in ways that demonstrate our love, understanding, and solidarity. May we be as Christ to them and to the world.
I invite us to listen to the pain, suffering, struggle, and deep longings of our Korean siblings as voiced through the Korean Caucus of the Baltimore-Washington Conference:
On March 16, there was a terrible shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. A man allegedly drove to massage parlors and killed eight people. Police are still investigating, and said, “nothing is off the table” to discern if this was “racially motivated.” But the killing had a profound impact on the Asian American community.
The Asian community does not regard this as “just” a crime. That’s because it reminds Asian American immigrants of the painful memories and personal disturbances from the immigrant life. What made us even more concerned was that such crime often targets the most vulnerable people: Asian females and elderly immigrants.
According to the New Federation of Asian American United Methodists, more than 122 incidents against Asian Americans have been committed in 16 of the country’s most populous cities since 2020, an increase of almost 150% over the previous year. In New York, the hate crimes targeting Asian people haves increased by over 800%. In LA, they have increased by 114%, in Boston by 130%, and in California, by 150%. Only the reported cases were counted.
To our Methodist sisters and brothers, especially the churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, we, the Korean Caucus, ask you to preach the Good News for our vulnerable neighbors and pray for the immigrant people standing on the margins. We hope you remember that Christian communities of the United States have always been a great help and resource for Korean immigrants. The American dream may disappear, but the immigrant community still desires Pax Christi, the Peace of Christ, through Christian brothers and sisters.