Pastor Jerry’s Statement on the Racial Tensions in Our Country
May 31, 2020
Once again, our news is filled with the racial tension in our country. We have been shocked by the blatant acts of social and institutional racism. We hope these stories represent only the extreme elements in our society but the poor response of officials in seeking justice has erupted into riots and demonstrations demanding for justice.
I must confess, I am weary of making statements and inviting prayers for racial justice as they seem so inadequate in the face of all our country is dealing with. As if the coronavirus was not enough, now we see our country torn apart even more. For those simply condemning the violence. I hope we listen to the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr who once said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” I share this not to condone what is happening in our cities but to explain it and to call us to find ways to dialogue with our African American brothers and sisters.
Beth Niedermeyer, our Superintendent of Noblesville Schools tweeted this statement yesterday, “Racial injustice has plagued this country for hundreds of years. Now more than ever, we must educate, listen, learn about the history of our country so we can tear down the institutions and systems that perpetuate inequities, injustices, racism. I am committed to this important work.” That statement describes well what is in my heart.
Friday, I reached out to Norm Williams, a member of our congregation who has been instrumental in putting together our Martin Luther King Celebration the past three years. I also reached out to Bob DuBois, the President and CEO for the Noblesville Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Noblesville Diversity Coalition, suggesting we organized a virtual conversation for our community. He informed me discussions are already taking place to gather a panel to lead a virtual community conversation that would involve key leaders in our community and be open to the public. I believe this is a positive, proactive step that will hopefully prevent the ugly scenes we have witnessed in other communities but also provide the opportunity to take positive steps toward resolving the racial inequities which exist on so many levels in our nation. I will be supporting this critical conversation and will invite your participation as we seek to be God’s people who will do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.
Let me finish with a story shared with me yesterday by my daughter Kelsey who lives in Evansville. She called me after participating in a demonstration yesterday afternoon of some 2,000 people that was organized by a young African American named Ebon Ellis, who had never been an activist of any kind before but felt compelled to do something in light of the death of George Floyd. He called the Evansville Police Department and asked permission to hold a peaceful demonstration during the day. They not only gave him permission, but the Evansville Police turned it into a partnership. My daughter believes this partnership was likely fostered by the Community Relations officer in the Evansville Police Department, an African American who has done some great work in the schools she oversees.
That young man prepped the crowd before the march and asked them to be respectful of the police because they were being supportive of their effort and would be present in front of the Civic Center. The crowd had signs and pictures of African Americans who had lost their lives due to police violence. They chanted “Black Lives Matter”, they chanted George Floyd’s name, they chanted “No Justice, no peace.” But Kelsey said, many of the police officers chanted with them while they stood in a line in front of the Civic Center. She said, it was one of the most powerful things she has ever experienced because it was made up of people of all different colors. She said, at least half of the crowd was white. People practiced safe, social distancing as best they could, most people wore masks. It was beautiful to hear her describe the scene because it was not black lives versus blue lives but people of all kinds coming together to say, “we have to do better.” Those are the kinds of stories I hope we will start see more of in the news.
This week I encourage you to reach out to your friends who don’t look like you. Find them and listen, listen humbly. If you don’t have friends who don’t look like you then call or email me, and I will set up a conversation with some of my friends where we can listen humbly together.