Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: George Floyd’s killing
The senseless killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, has shaken our nation to the core. The fact that the inhumane and unjust treatment of Mr. Floyd is not an isolated incident in our country adds to the pain, fear and outrage felt by countless Americans. The situation is made worse by uncertainty about whether all of those involved in George Floyd’s death will be held accountable.
George Floyd’s killing has brought to the forefront several issues that must be addressed in our nation, including the following: 1) People are treated differently in our country based on skin color. 2) Justice does not always prevail in cases of police brutality.
How are Christ-followers to respond to these realities? The answer jumped out to me yesterday, as with a troubled heart about the current turmoil in our country, I once again read the Acts 2 account of the first Pentecost Sunday. Verse 4 reads, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”
That’s it! Christ-followers are to speak Christ’s message of love for God and others in the face of racism and injustice. This message includes grace and accountability, mercy and justice, and loving God and people.
We speak both with our words and actions. Actually, let me reverse that sequence in keeping with the quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” We speak both with our actions and words.
Acts 2 reminds us that the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do this. Indeed, we only have the capacity to do so as we are empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.
Here are some of the ways in which God is calling me to speak Christ’s message in the face of racism and injustice.
- Participate in training and inventories to identify personal biases and prejudices I have of which I am unaware.
- Pray daily for racism to be eliminated from my behaviors, our nation and world.
- Engage in conversation about racism when I see it exhibited by myself or others.
- Work to make our legal system more just, specifically as it pertains to inequities based on race.
- Listen to the stories, thoughts and feelings of my African American brothers and sisters. In that spirit, I commend to you the blog written by our Executive Director of Ethnic Ministries and incoming Southeast District Superintendent Rev. Donald Smith.
- Invest with increasing intentionality in my relationships with nonwhite friends and neighbors.
I invite you to spend some quiet time alone this week asking God to show you how to respond to racism and injustice. Then speak by your actions and words as you have the opportunity. God’s Holy Spirit empowers us to do so.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference