Ocean City Today

Local clergy unites against racial intolerance

By Greg Ellison | Jan 25, 2018
Source: File Photo In August 2016 members of Clergy United for Reconciliation and Equality are joined by Dr. Roxie Dennis of Worcester NAACP to seek means to address racial tensions.

(Jan. 26, 2108) In response to disparaging language used at the highest levels of the federal government toward African countries, Hispanic immigrants, refugees, Muslims and women, Ocean City faith leaders are uniting next Wednesday to sign a statement expressing concern and disappointment.

Clergy from a dozen Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Jewish, Methodist and other institutions will gather at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 10301 Coastal Highway, on Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. for the event.

The statement asserts racism is a sin “that violates God’s intentions for humanity and breaks the bonds of community.”

It also notes political leaders using bigoted language are, “an affront to the values of equality, dignity and hospitality that we hold dear as a nation.”

It goes on to ask all members of the faith community to “join in repudiating all forms of bigotry based upon race, religion, gender, country of origin, or sexual orientation.”

St. Peter’s Lutheran Pastor Gregg Knepp said church leaders from as far as Wicomico and Princess Anne counties are joining with members of Clergy United for Reconciliation and Equality, or CURE, which took root from multi-denominational peace vigils held in July 2016.

“It developed out of the CURE group,” he said. “We’re looking for ways to expand our representation.”

Knepp said the group signed a pact in Aug. 2016 to address issues of racial equality within their respective congregations.

Father Stanislao Esposito, from St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, said the statement is not intended to vilify politicians perpetuating racially divisive rhetoric, but rather examine the moralistic basis for demeaning “others.”

“The mentality that would allow us to justify the belief that place of origin would make you less desirable as a human being,” he said. “If you diminish human dignity and you divide the people we need to make a stand.”

As part of the outreach, Knepp said the statement contains a pledge to foster honest engagement over issues relating to race, ethnicity and culture.

“Our next steps will focus on our response,” he said. “We’re going to follow up with a prayer breakfast in April to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination [and will hold] workshops to address the issue and impact on our community.”

Knepp said following the signing lunch would be held at noon. All clergy are welcome to join and can RSVP to tgknepp@gmail.com.

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