GRAP clergy statement on George Floyd's death

The following statement was written by GRAP executive leaders, and was submitted to the media on Thursday, June 4. Please consider joining this ecumenical, racially diverse list of clergy in Grand Rapids--we will continue to collect signatures on this statement for as long as clergy want to sign it. For more information about GRAP, please visit grpastors.org.

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As Christian leaders in Grand Rapids, we want to stand together to name the painful moment we are in. Our hearts were again traumatized as we witnessed the murder of yet another black male. This man had a name: George Floyd. We heard bystanders pleading with the police officers to stop pressing against his neck. We heard the emotional, helpless cry of a man dying under the knee of police officers. And of those who witnessed his death.

We are moved to respond. We must respond individually, to search our hearts for how God is calling us to change the racism that we have internalized. We must respond as a community here in Grand Rapids, to hold our police officers and city officials accountable to policies which protect the dignity of black and brown people. And we must respond nationally to the overwhelming injustice of racism and the failure of those in power to lead with justice. Our Scriptures tell us that all people of faith are required by God “to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The pain of this moment is palpable—we see it, we hear it, and we experience it. Our compassionate God, who dwells among us, feels this pain. The anger, rage, and violence that has broken out in our city is part of this pain. We want destruction to stop. Violence begets violence. And we need the root of this to be faced. Racism is what is breaking our community.

Each of us as religious and civic leaders must work to right this wrong. In Scripture, it is called repentance -- turning from our wicked ways, and resolving to walk in a new direction. We must speak out and be visible, amplify the voices of those who are most impacted and who are leading us toward a more just community.

We, the clergy of Grand Rapids, believe that God is able to work in this community, to make a way out of no way. We believe that God can reconcile us one to another, that God can heal our city and heal our nation. And we recognize that pain is always a part of true healing. We resolve to work together, across the lines that have divided us. We resolve to use our power and platforms to name the legacy of systemic racism that has traumatized people of color.

We love Grand Rapids. We pray for its peace. We know that peace comes with justice.
"May justice roll down like a mighty water, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream."

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