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Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked The United Methodist Church at the 2015 Baltimore-Washington Conference for its leadership following riots spurred by the death of Freddie Gray.  Photo by Tony Richards, courtesy of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

Photo by Tony Richards, courtesy of the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked The United Methodist Church at the 2015 Baltimore-Washington Conference for its leadership following riots spurred by the death of Freddie Gray.

Baltimore mayor thanks United Methodists

By Crystal Caviness*
May 29, 2015 | BALTIMORE

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked The United Methodist Church today for its leadership in recent weeks following riots throughout the city spurred by the death of Freddie Gray.

“I cannot say enough about the faith leaders we have across the board in our community of every faith tradition but I also want to specifically thank the members of The United Methodist Church,” said Rawlings-Blake.

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The Baltimore mayor, who was raised as a United Methodist, was on hand for the opening day of the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference.

“It is in the tradition of our Methodist social action that I saw so many of you show up for us during the unrest to address the challenges that our residents face,” she said. “So whether it’s through direct social action, mentoring or just a kind word, you continue to be leaders to help us grow Baltimore.”

Rawlings-Blake, who recently launched the One Baltimore initiative to focus on strengthening the city, applauded faith leaders for their support and guidance, often in dangerous situations.

“I could give you one testimony after the next about how faith leaders stood and put themselves in harm’s way and put themselves between the agitators and the police to protect the police officers,” she said, adding also that during times of curfew, the churches opened their doors to provide food and other resources and to work with young people in the community.

The task, however, is not done.

“I’m letting you know now,” said Rawlings-Blake, “that I’ll be calling on you again because there are bridges that need to be built that can’t be done without the faith community.”

The mayor presented a proclamation to Bishop Marcus Matthews recognizing May 28-30 as the 231st session of the Baltimore Washington Conference in Baltimore.

Pastors, leaders and laity representing more than 170,000 United Methodists in 642 churches across Maryland, West Virginia’s panhandle, and Washington, D.C., are in Baltimore through Saturday for the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference.

*Caviness is Public Relations Specialist at United Methodist Communications. Contact her at (615) 742-5138 or CCaviness@umcom.org.