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June 29, 2015, 1:51 PM

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

A Message from Pastor Ken...

I am sickened by the terroristic actions by some young thug in Charleston. I am sickened that over a span of five days as many as five churches that were homes of worship for our Black brothers and sisters were burned down by some arsonist(s).

I am not a very eloquent man. In fact some would call me marginal in my English and writing skills. I am, however, a passionate person and throughout most of my life numbers have painted pictures for me; wondrous and glorious pictures.  Up until recent times (now that I am a pastor) that has been so. 

Let me speak to some numbers that I've gathered:

There are, on average, 250,000 hate crimes per year according to the FBI...that is 250,000 too many.  Let's put that into perspective. There are 75,000 people in the city of Scranton, Pa. which is part of the 213,000 people that live in Lackawanna County, Pa. Imagine all of those people in Lackawanna County are subjected to a hate crime and it still would not reach the number of the hate crimes recorded.

Also according to the FBI: Fifty-nine (59%) percent of the known offenders were white; 20.9 percent were black. The race was unknown for 10.8 percent, and other races accounted for the remaining known offenders.

You all have heard me say that we need to have a relationship with God because God wants it to be so.  And that my friends is the bottom line. One on one.... with God. We are called to have relationships amongst each other ... that is one to many. God makes that call of each of us. He gave us the Son so we all might have this relationship. The Son who had the audacity to challenge the religious leadership and reigning government by preaching inclusion, justice, peace, truth and love.  For that we hung him on a cross to die and kill him. 

Friends, if this terrorism happened to one of us, in one of our sanctuaries, as we gather to worship, or study, or hold a confirmation class….we would be outraged.  My friends if it happens to one of us it happens to all of us....and it has and did.   Regardless if you are black or white, male or female, rich or poor, young or old, believer or not, Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu or atheist  hate has no room here or anywhere.

We must call racism exactly what it is... domestic terrorism. Yes.. Domestic Terrorism and we cannot sit on the sidelines any longer. Just as we stood up against terrorism on 9-11 to fight evil from abroad we must do the same as we did in Boston. Domestic terrorism is right here, right now amongst us and we must quench the embers of hate before it destroys and consumes all of us.

Some say that it is just people with mental illness. There is no pill to take as if to say mental illness is or was to blame.  Was the Nazi leadership all mentally ill? How about the Apartheid leadership over those many years? Or the Rhodesian government? No! 

  Fighting hate, racism, or marginalization of anyone now falls on me, it falls on you; it falls on all of us.  One by one, two by two, 50 by 50, 100 by 100 we need to stand united until we eradicate the tolerance of hate, racism and this domestic terrorism. 

We must stand up to this evil of racism and fight it with our very souls. As one of my friends and colleagues the Rev. Dwayne Royster said, "Today we grieve, tomorrow we must fight for justice." I say we must stand up right now and say no...we are not going to permit this type of injustice any longer. Folks, today is tomorrow and we must take action now.

  It's been said to one degree or another over these many years...To remain silent is to be complicit; to be complicit is to be ignorant; ignorance breeds fear; fear breeds hatred; hatred breeds destruction. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said it this way, "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

Today's we must love...today we must let love drive out the darkness ... today must be the day we bask in the light and love of Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Today, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sake of humanity, we must walk in the light and join forces, arm in arm, to fight this evil called Terrorism. The terrorism of racism; of marginalism; of hate.

        Pastor Ken

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