Disciples have been showing up and standing up across the United States and Canada in reaction to a string of killings of Black Americans. Here are just a few of the photos and videos collected in late May and June 2020. We are also aware of rallies with a Disciples Public Presence in Charlotte and other communities. (If you have additional information or photos, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Messages of solidarity from the global church (June 23 and following)
- College of Regional Ministers’ letter to the Church (June 11, 2020)
- Center for Indigenous Ministries support for National Convocation (June 11, 2020)
- From the National Pastor of Obra Hispana (June 4, 2020)
- ‘We need to be the Church we say we are’ (June 3, 2020)
- What the world needs today (June 2, 2020)
- ‘I want a Church’ (May 26, 2020)
Disciples showed up at the Supreme Court in June to ring bells in support of DACA recipients. See the New Yorker story (June 26, 2020)
From the General Youth Council, June 2, 2020
As is everyone else in our country right now, we are living in a time that cannot be ignored. In the words of Desmond Tutu, to stay silent would be taking the side of the oppressor. As the youth representatives of Disciples of Christ, we are called to follow the vision statement of our denomination. The vision statement, modeled after Micah 6:8, encourages us to have a passion for justice, which is always important, but especially now. We stand with the protesters and people that want to be acknowledged, heard, and respected. We stand with those that have lost their lives or lost family members and friends. We stand with those that have suffered from property damage and loss of business. Not all of us on GYC will ever know what it is like to live as an African-American in America, but together we still stand with you.
I have, like most everyone else, preached about the injustices that have culminated in the killing of George Floyd. I have also published a column in our local newspaper about it. On Sunday I will participate in a march through our community with other churches. I continue to serve on a committee locally with the Equal Justice Initiative, in which we are working with the national EJI group to erect historical markers in our community that tell the tragic history of racial lynching in our town. – Dave Charlton, Senior Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Shelbyville, KY
Some friends of mine and I protested on June 1st, at the State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. It started out as a gathering of maybe 150 people but grew to approximately 1000 people as the protest continued and as we marched around the center of the city of Springfield. We chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace, Prosecute Police” and other appropriate sayings, like “I Can’t Breathe”. We remembered the deaths of the victims. We were led by very young people from local high schools; Allaijah Davis, 15, Ariona Fairlee, 16, and Nykeyla Henderson, 17. The protest ended with many lying face down on Second Street, in front of the Capitol, with their hands behind their backs, saying, “I can’t Breathe.” The organizer of the march through town, Tyrese Thomas, called Floyd “a symbol of another fallen father and another fallen life. Thomas also said, “We’re not here to say we hate cops and we’re not here to riot.” Police were on hand to control traffic so we could march through intersections. It was a peaceful, heartfelt protest. I was impressed with the passionate youth who led the protest. (The names and quotes were from The State Journal Register article on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.) – Sheri Ramsey, First Christian Church, Springfield, IL
From the Young Adult Commission, June 5, 2020
We, as the Young Adult Commission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), denounce the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery; the racial profiling and harrassment of Christian Cooper; the assault and attack against Iyanna Dior; and many more sins against our Black Siblings in Christ. We uplift and affirm that Black Lives Matter, and we proclaim that these actions from police, from white supremacists, and from racists are unjust and do not follow our identity as folks in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a movement that strives towards Anti-Racism and Pro-Reconciliation.
We have often heard that young adults are the future of our church and that we will help make the Disciples of Christ what it needs to be in the climate we find ourselves in today. Indeed, we recognize the need for young leaders, and we proclaim that we have to become the church we want the Disciples of Christ to be now. None of us can claim to fully understand the dynamics of systemic racism, for it is a long process that we all have to commit to undoing, and that we want our church to commit to. We remember that Alexander Campbell called us to study the Gospel to understand it for ourselves. In that spirit, we pray that as Disciples we can commit ourselves to doing the work that is necessary to become anti-racist. We pray that our church can always be one of justice, one that stands up for Black bodies under threat of violence from the police and white supremacy.
We strive to hold ourselves accountable to be a source of facilitation in hosting some of the difficult discussions of Anti-Racism and Pro-Reconciliation that our church needs to have together. Reflecting the unconditional love and mission of Jesus Christ in the actions we take and the lasting influence we intend to create, we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the proper response and reconciliation actions. Over the next few months, we’ll be providing book groups, discussion groups, and other resources to engage persons across this denomination in this hard work.
We pray for the Holy Spirit to offer us guidance.
Thirty-eight white ministers representing 8 Christian denominations and thousands of local congregants issued a public, pastoral letter addressing racism and justice. On Sunday, June 7, the statement was read aloud in many of their church services and is being posted on church social media. See below for full statement.
The clergy signees are ordained in the Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominational, and Presbyterian traditions. Their churches are located in and around downtown Decatur, a diverse and vibrant city of 30,000 citizens adjacent to Atlanta.
A Statement from Decatur’s White Clergy on Racism and Justice
Black Lives Matter. We name that unequivocal truth. Black lives matter to God.
We speak to you as white ordained leaders of Decatur churches that for generations have sought to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, our beloved churches have fallen short of our call and commission to live fully into Christ’s call because we have embraced the self-serving corruption of systemic racism. Too many of our Decatur churches were planted in soil tainted with racism. Too many of our Decatur churches harvested the fruit of that racism. And like too many of our predecessors, we who now serve as your shepherds have been too silent, too complicit in those systems because they benefit us. As the prophet Jeremiah writes, “[We] have treated the wound of [God’s] people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”
The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd force us to see what our fellow black clergy have long told us: that systemic racism is not only embedded in our city, our state, and our nation, it is also embedded in our churches and in us, your clergy.
As people set apart to be servant leaders, we ask God and God’s people to hear our repentance, and if God and God’s people are willing, to forgive us.
We have been silent. We will no longer be silent. As white clergy, we must engage in the faithful, ongoing work of dismantling racism, anti-blackness, and white supremacy, beginning with ourselves and our churches. Our posture must be one of humility and decentering ourselves. We must listen to and follow the leadership of our black clergy colleagues who have led this work for so long, and support their work with our labor and resources.
We trust that by his judgment, Jesus calls us to account for our sin. We trust that by his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus does not leave us stuck in our shame, guilt, or fear. We have this hope that Christ lifts us into new life, together.
We call on you, Christ’s gathered body throughout Decatur, to join us in this work and to demand this work from us. Being anti-racist and pro-justice is not separate from the work of the church; this is at the core of the church’s work. We covenant with you to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Imagine our churches truly living into God’s vision for them.
Black lives matter to God and they must matter to every one of God’s people gathered today in our churches.
- Montgomery, AL television coverage of pastors’ reactions to George Floyd’s death (June 3, 2020)
- Pastor Maurice Johnson offers a word (June 2, 2020)