We grieve for the most recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other black Americans killed in our nation’s history as a result of racism and white supremacy.
We hear the voices of people of color who regularly experience prejudice, contempt, and violence in America.
We support peaceful protests, and reject the destruction of property.
We respect the role of law enforcement to defend lives and property, and we utterly reject the use of force against peaceful protestors.
We hope that out of the tension of this moment will come a better reality for all citizens of our nation, especially our African-American sisters and brothers, and we pray for God’s guidance to know how to bring that better reality to life.
155 years after the abolishment of slavery, and 55 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, we remain in the long shadow of our nation’s original sins of racism and white supremacy. These two sins were woven seamlessly into the fabric of our nation, and remain a tragic part of our common life today. They continue to cause untold amounts of suffering, as they manifest themselves in rates of incarceration, judicial sentencing, homicide, income, chronic illness, life expectancy, and COVID infection.
And so, we support the growing movement happening in our city, state, and country, as citizens of all races join together to urge our nation to become a true place of “liberty and justice for all.” We ground our support in the words and witness of Jesus Christ, who revealed God’s judgment upon all forms of injustice and God’s solidarity with the vulnerable and oppressed.
We begin with a spirit of repentance. The sins of racism and white supremacy are part of the forces of evil that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and white Christians have too often shown complicity with these forces by their silence and indifference. Thus, we must continually examine our lives for any embodiment of these sins, and wherever we find them, repent, and recommit to the work of loving all our neighbors as ourselves.
We urge our local, state, and national leaders to discontinue the use of forceful tactics against peaceful protestors, as the right to peaceful protest is fundamental to a just and democratic society. In particular, the use of military personnel, tools, and tactics, such as those used to disperse a crowd of protestors in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. for the purpose of a political stunt, are unacceptable and must be ended immediately. Protestors are not enemies to be defeated, but fellow citizens seeking equal protection under the law.
Instead, we urge the use of peaceful means of engagement, by protestors, law enforcement, and leaders. Only when we are peacefully engaged can we truly and honestly hear one another and seek solutions to such longstanding challenges. And we must remember that the work we face as a nation is moral as well as legal; it is about respecting the dignity and common humanity of every person.
As Christian leaders, we support this movement for justice in our nation, understanding that it is an expression of our faith and embedded in our covenantal identity as baptized Christians. And we pray to become instruments of peace during this important time: listening before speaking, giving before receiving, seeking to understand before asking to be understood. This is a moment when Christians should listen for our “better angels,” and embrace a spirit of sacrifice and humility that will help propel all people to a better future.
The movement toward justice is not always smooth or linear, but we maintain our faith in the power of God to bend all things toward their ultimate perfection. God, working through us, can bring about a better day for people living in darkness and the shadow of death. So let us maintain our hope in Christ, recommit ourselves to his way of love, pray without ceasing, and spend our lives broadening the just and peaceful reign of God on earth as it is in heaven.
Signed,
The Rev. R. Casey Shobe, Rector
The Rev. JD Godwin, Retired Rector
The Rev. Terence Roper, Rector Emeritus
The Rev. Nancy DeStefano, Pastoral Assistant
The Rev. Ginny Kivel, Deacon
The Rev. Michael Merriman, Retired Associate
The Rev. Liz O’Donnell, Retired Deacon
The Rev. Rebecca Tankersley, Associate Rector