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in Faith, Hope

Will we be peacemakers?

Merely one week ago, the General Board of Church & Society of The United Methodist Church (the justice arm of the UMC) sent a passionate note in response to recent hate crimes like the anti-Semitic murders in Pittsburgh and the anti-black murders in Kentucky, plus multiple other recent instances of violence and hate. In that note, Church & Society's General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, used a line from A Tale of Two Cities (one of my favorite books) to try to find a way forward: "recalled to life."

A Tale of Two Cities ends as a story of resurrection with the main characters, Dr. Manette, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, being “recalled to life.”


Resurrection, in Dickens, demonstrates that the spiritual lives of all people depend upon the hope of being born anew, recalled to life.

We must soberly ask, in the light of the chaos and violence around us, what does it mean for us to be recalled to life?

Read the whole note here.

Now, today, that note is tragically out of date with yet another mass shooting Wednesday night. As Church & Society wrote this time: 

"Like me, you might have felt a familiar sense of disbelief, sorrow and dread as the reality began to sink in... senseless violence, terror, tragedy, death and profound loss of life have cut yet another community. Jesus calls us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), yet it often feels like there is not much we can do. How can we make peace when violence intrudes on our daily reality?"

Adding to all this violence and hatred, locally, more than 56,000 people spread over Cook, Will, and DuPage counties voted for an actual freaking Nazi for U.S. Representative. That includes 11,576 people from Will County and 176 from DuPage County.

It is enough to make one scream, shout, and lament: What can we do?!

Here's something we can do: attend a vigil to end gun violence. The closest one scheduled so far is at the Universalist Unitarian Church in Joliet on December 14th at 6:30pm

Jesus calls us to be peacemakers. But that doesn't mean to be doormats. The section of scripture that verse comes from (Matthew 5-7) we usually call The Sermon on the Mount. It is full of creative non-violent responses to violent oppression.

That's what true peacemaking is: creative non-violent responses to violence. 

So let's plan to go to that vigil. 

But let's not stop there. We're better together, so let's crowd source this: What else do you want to help WUMC do to work to end gun violence and hatred in our communities, in our nation, and in our world? Leave a comment below or email me. 


in Prayer

Bishop Dyck's Prayer Request for Chicago

In worship this past Sunday, we shared part of a prayer request from our Bishop, the Rev. Sally Dyck, for Chicago as police officer Jason Van Dyke is on trial for the murder of Laquan McDonald. But I want you to have the full text of the Bishop's request, so it is below.

If you prefer to read the request in its original form, click here.


"I am asking all United Methodist churches in Northern Illinois to pray for the city of Chicago!

In October 2014, Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African American, was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke as the officer arrived on the scene. Police dash cam video caught the shooting, showing McDonald with a knife in hand walking away from Officer Van Dyke. The video was withheld from the public for about a year during the election campaign for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Upon seeing the video, discrepancies arose about the police reports, resulting in charges being brought against Officer Van Dyke. Now almost four years later, the trial has begun. The city is on edge as it awaits the outcome of this trial; a city that already reels from multiple gun shootings each week.

I urge prayers for the city of Chicago during and after the trial. This is a defining moment for Chicago. This is an effort to address what we're for as United Methodists, not what we're against. We're not against police officers; like all professions, including clergy, there are moments of accountability for those who abuse their office. We don't wish revenge on Officer Van Dyke; we pray for a fair and just trial and outcome.

While this is a trial about one individual who is being held accountable for his actions, it is also about accountability in all police shootings. Our concern is underscored by the 2016 U.S. Justice Department's 14-point report calling for the need for reform of the Chicago Police Department.

I call upon United Methodists to pray, to become aware of the particulars regarding this case and as you are able to take an active role in peaceful public actions to restore the shalom of God to the city. A good resource is the WBEZ podcast: 16 Shots (click here to listen). It gives the backstory and the day-by-day report of what is happening in the trial, examining all the parties involved in the courtroom. Also, the podcast makes Laquan a real human being, not just a name in the news, as his friends and family talk about him.

And as we pray, yard signs will be made available to churches (and members) to display. The signs will read:



Other displayed messages that read "we are praying for the city of Chicago and justice" are also encouraged. You can request a yard sign via an email to Include your church name, church address, contact phone number and contact person.

Every day during the trial there will be gatherings in front of the courthouse (2650 S. California, Chicago). On September 24 at 10 a.m. United Methodists will be leading a worship service of prayer, singing, scripture, and sign-acts. All United Methodists and friends are invited to join me and others as we share our message and practice our open table of communion.

For those in the suburbs of Chicago and beyond, I would also encourage you to hold the city of Chicago up in your prayers throughout this trial and the announcement of its verdict. As the scriptures say, the welfare of the city is everyone's welfare or future well-being. This trial in Chicago will impact people far beyond the city limits. Furthermore, where one suffers, we all suffer. Let us pray together as one body.

For churches within Chicago, the trial is a significant moment for Chicago and will have national implications. As one of our clergy said, "We're irrelevant in Chicago if we have nothing to say or do about this trial."

Thank you for your prayers in advance. ~Sally Dyck"