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As we strive to become deeply devoted followers of Jesus Christ, we recognize that God calls us to be a people of justice, and that we cannot follow Christ from a path of racism in any form.

So, we encourage you to join HPUMC as we listen, learn, and act.

From honest conversations between black and white leaders in our community to ways that we can erase opportunity gaps for students, discover how each of us can be the light of Christ in the world.

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Rev. Paul Rasmussen, Senior Minister at HPUMC, recently joined with other Park Cities area pastors in signing a statement on racial justice and equality. You can read the entire letter below and see Rev. Rasmussen’s responses to questions about this momentous act of unity.

How did this come about, and what made you want to sign?

Back in June, I received an invitation from a young woman in our community named Abigail Foose. Like many of us, she wanted to “do something” to respond to the crisis, but she wasn’t sure what that would be. She reached out to a dozen-plus pastors — none of whom she knew — for a dinner and discussion in her backyard. None of us knew who would be there, but we all showed up. What a reminder that most of God’s best work is through people without any credentials other than a desire to help.

For over a century, the Park Cities have been fortified with some of the most vibrant worship communities in Dallas. Each has its own distinctions and individual strengths. Each church has an individual record of difference-making in Dallas. But this is the first time, that I’m aware of, where all of the churches have come together with such unity of voice. This is a historic moment.

What do you think a united statement like this accomplishes?

That evening was the catalyst for some truly meaningful conversation. While we all get along, we rarely stand in unity on any given social/cultural controversy. On the issue of race, there is a unified front among these churches. We know that our collective will and power of influence can have an enormous impact on the city of Dallas.

How does this translate into action?

We all hope that unity of message — the idea that racism is antithetical to Christianity — will bind us together in meaningful action. We hope this letter will mature into substantive change. We hope it’s the starting place for relationship building among groups of people who are far too often separated. HPUMC is blessed to come alongside such committed churches.

Here is the text of the statement:

As pastors who share a common union in Christ, and a common love for the people of the Park Cities, we are united in Him to serve our congregations with grace and truth. We seek to shepherd our people in the way of Jesus, and having been reconciled through His life, death, and resurrection, we now seek to reconcile all people to Him, and together in Him. Rescued by God’s love, we are called to reimagine our lives and our city in light of His vision for a renewed humanity, where all people flourish in the truth, beauty, and justice of God.

This cultural moment compels us to come together and bring the light of His Gospel to the darkness of racial inequity and all forms of injustice, that continue to confront our hearts, our city, and the country we love. As shepherds, God has given us the task of preaching, teaching, and discipling our members to bring a loving influence to all people, created in God’s image, as we point them to the love of God found in Christ. We recognize our role is to bring God’s love into every aspect of life. This begins with each of us confessing our sin before Him, repenting of our attitudes, passivity, or neglect, and by teaching our children to love all people, and by acting to bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

We believe the Gospel lived out in and through the Church, the people of Christ united in Him, is the ultimate answer. We desire for our churches to be marked by a Micah 6:8 mandate, “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly” with our God. To this end, we are united to serve the people we love for the flourishing of our city and beyond.

Signed in solidarity:

Mark Davis, Senior Pastor, Park Cities Presbyterian Church
Bryan Dunagan, Senior Pastor, Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Chris Girata, Rector, Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
Wade Hodges, Senior Minister, Preston Road Church of Christ
Virzola Law, Senior Minister, Northway Christian Church
Paul Rasmussen, Senior Minister, Highland Park United Methodist Church
Tony Lackland, Pastor, Christ the King Catholic Church
The Pastoral Team of Highland Country Fellowship
Joe Stobaugh, senior pastor, University Park UMC
Jeff Warren, senior pastor, Park Cities Baptist Church