The following is a collaborative statement from the Foursquare Southeast District Staff
Our dear friends,
Over the past few weeks we have seen a widening of the divide between our black brothers and sisters and a culture that passively accepts societal norms that work for some, but not for all. We have witnessed the tragic killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. Words cannot express the sadness we feel. Both killings were wrong, one can only conclude that they were influenced by a pervasive sickness in our broken humanity. Racism is a sin against the very Creator who designed diversity into the fabric of humanity. Forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation can only be found in Jesus Christ, and that is what the Church should not only proclaim with our voices, but also exemplify with our lives.
To the families of Ahmaud and George, we are so sorry, we repent for the wrongs done to your loved ones. We repent for what part we have played by not properly standing up for your God-given rights.
We are followers of Jesus and we must passionately contend for justice, mercy, and equality. Our beautiful and Spirit-empowered mandate, in this moment, was clearly stated by our Lord and Savior: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children or God” (Matthew 5:9). For us to be the peacemakers that we are called to be, we must lead the charge in demonstrating, in word and deed, our deep convictions for justice, mercy, and equality. We can no longer tolerate hate and injustice while quietly pressing on.
To our black brothers and sisters, we want you to know that we love you and we see you. Our hearts break for you. Your lives are beautiful and precious, and you are amazingly strong! We are committed to learning and listening and doing better. We will pray and take action with you against injustice and racism. The Kingdom of God is comprised of people from every tribe, every tongue, every nation, every culture, every ethnicity, every age, and both genders.
We have been praying for Divine insight in the words we've chosen on this matter. There are voices saying that silence is the same as consent. We understand, though we also agree with others who would say that conciliatory words are kind but powerless and that agreement offers some hope but little change. Holy submission and action are what is needed. To this end we are committed to listening to our black pastors and leaders, to hear their stories, mourn with them, pray with them and learn from them. They are speaking out and clearly saying:
Do not judge what you don’t understand.
Do not fear what you can’t comprehend.
Be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Listen more. Comment less.
Our collaborative step in divine peacemaking will be to listen and learn and act together. In this we have so great a hope, we believe our black brothers and sisters will teach us and lead us. God has raised them up, strong and wise, to help us know how to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly together with our God (Malachi 6:8). In this, we are truly better together!
I am asking for all Senior Pastors to join us next Thursday evening, June 11th from 7:00 to 8:15 for our first listening, learning and praying gathering.
“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds” (Henri Nouwen).