A Message from Pastor Bartley Sawatsky
The past couple of weeks have prompted a lot of soul-searching. Just when we thought we were in the middle of the biggest historical event of our generation, an even greater event has eclipsed our worldwide pandemic. The horrific death of George Floyd calls for reflection, voice and action.
At Renew Church, we condemn racism in every form. We hope that this has long been understood, but we feel it is important to verbalize it. We affirm our belief in a God who has created all people in his image and who commands that all people be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their social, economic, or ethnic background. We sincerely grieve the violent and lawless death of George Floyd and we call for justice on his behalf. We lament that blacks and other racial minorities still face such discrimination and hatred in North America.
At this key moment in history, Renew Church reaffirms its commitment, not only to fighting racism, but to helping change the systems and mindsets that continue to create division and inequality. We do not pretend to be faultless in this area and we confess that we have much to learn. We are eager to engage in conversation over the topic and we welcome ideas and input on how our church can become a stronger force for change.
As many of you know, our church was birthed out of a fellowship with a white European heritage in the United States, but exists in the most cosmopolitan city in the world. Close to half of our adult members were born outside of Canada, and it has been that way since our inception. As a person who moved to Toronto after growing up in rural Nova Scotia—a place with very little exposure to different races and cultures—I have grown to know and love people from all over the globe. In this way I consider myself exceedingly blessed. I see amazing richness in racial and cultural diversity, and when I gather with my Christian brothers and sisters, I get a wonderful sense of what heaven is going to be like, with people from every tribe and tongue worshipping God together.
It has long been my hope that our church could be a place that celebrates racial diversity, and that we could even be a model for churches all over North America. While we may appear to be doing well in this regard, these recent events remind us that we likely have many blind spots, and that we need to continue to improve. My hope and prayer is that we will do that, together. May the Lord help us cause his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
PS – A starting point for progress is in having open and honest conversations in an attempt to understand those who are different from us. This week, Pastor Andrew engaged in one such conversation. Please check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds6dAnbNUks&t=106s
Our fellowship, Charis, has issued a statement on behalf of our American churches, and we are in alignment with that statement. It can be found here: https://charisfellowship.us/page/ourResponse