Our hearts break today upon the news that a grand jury will not seek stronger charges against the police officers involved in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. The senseless death of this young woman has enraged this community and prompted thousands, including many Presbyterians, to take to the streets to call for justice in the last several months. And yet, today’s news of only three counts of Wanton Endangerment only makes us feel that our cries have fallen on deaf ears.
We grieve with Breonna Taylor’s family and continue to lift them up in prayer as her community seeks to heal.
This is a travesty. People of color should not have to live in fear of those who are called to protect and serve.
We as a church have the responsibility to be about the business of redeeming humanity and giving light to all that is taking place in order that justice will reign for all people, not just a privileged few.
Throughout human history, our ability to live in harmony with one another has been compromised. Whether it was pride, greed, or bias, we have sought to take advantage of one another through race, privilege, wealth, and other means, and have used these forms of power to gain control.
As Presbyterians, we honor all people as children of God; but we, in reality, have succumbed to pride, selfishness, and the love of power. Our history is replete with racial pride that has undergirded generations of exploitation of people of color, more often than not, to drive economic engines that have fed our privileged way of life.
How can the Creator be pleased with this aspect of our history? The only proper response is repentance — what our scriptures call “turning around.”
Here and now, at this moment in our history, we have been led to confess the damage our racist history has caused by joining in the cry, “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” and renewing our efforts to bring justice to those who have been denigrated, used, ignored, and repressed because of the color of their skin.
We do this in the hope and expectation that this affirmation will motivate us to join our energy and our resources in the movement across our nation that not only calls attention to the scars of racism on our nation, but also calls for action to address the damage which that racism has caused.
This movement is here now. We pray that we will love one another and treat others as we want to be treated and that we should live a life that reflects the values of love and, in all things, be willing to abide even with the struggles of others, no matter what their race might be. Wrong is wrong.
We pray that government leaders in Louisville will work to improve community building, address racism and focus on the growing problem of violence involving guns.
It is our responsibility to bring about change and redeem those who have been lost, damned, and dejected.
Let’s stop sitting on the sidelines and get busy doing the work of transformative justice in the U.S. so all people may be free.
Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reverend Dr. Diane Moffett
President and Executive Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Reverend John Odom
Reverend Jerry Van Marter