The senseless murder of George Floyd has shaken me, as I’m sure it has many of you, and it has brought to the forefront the issue of racism and the inexcusably protected and repeated unacceptable behavior of some in law enforcement. This behavior is a disgrace to the countless men and women who put their lives on the line to serve and protect their communities every day. People across the country and the globe are speaking up with mostly peaceful protests, but the scenes of violence and looting we see portrayed on the news have detracted from the work of these demonstrators.
I have witnessed racist behavior first hand, and was taught by my parents to stand up against it. Growing up in San Antonio in the 1950s, my mother taught me that all are God’s children, no matter the skin color. As a young boy I witnessed my mother speak up and act on her belief that everyone should be treated with the same respect and regard, and that none should live in fear.
As we grapple with the reality of the state of our nation and our homes, I encourage you to have uncomfortable conversations with your children, families, neighbors and friends. Demonstrate for your children and grandchildren the love of God for all people. I encourage us all to ask God for wisdom and discernment in our self-reflection.
Larry R. Moore, President
Southwestern Union Response
The Southwestern Union acknowledges the pain and outcry of millions of Americans over the horrific and inexcusable killing of George Floyd at the hand of four police officers in Minneapolis, MN. Our hearts break for the families that have suffered this tremendous loss. We are heartbroken knowing that there are individuals in our Church and in our communities who face fear and hate on a regular basis. We recognize the turmoil that this and similarly unjust incidents have caused our community and our country. Today, we know the names of several Black Americans who have unjustifiably lost their lives, but we also must acknowledge there may be names we will never know.
The Southwestern Union condemns these killings and the racist and hateful behavior that contributes to such atrocious acts. The Southwestern Union stands in solidarity with the peaceful protests across the Southwestern Union territory and the United States calling for police reform, legislative change and societal action. We affirm and join their call for justice to be served for the victims and their families.
The Southwestern Union does not condone the violence that has occurred at some of these protests that has resulted in damage and unrest. A small group of individuals with ulterior motives should not eclipse the tremendous efforts of thousands of peaceful demonstrators exercising their first amendment rights. We praise the demonstrators that have intervened to ensure violence does not occur and we thank the law enforcement officers that have demonstrated restraint and stood alongside protesters in solidarity.
As Seventh-day Adventists we celebrate our uniquely diverse denomination, but we must do more to bridge the gaps created by racism and inequality that allows injustice to continue to occur. The Southwestern Union recognizes that more must be done within our organizations, churches and schools. We want our members to know we hear you. We are listening. In an effort to begin having conversations and discovering ways to improve, we invite you to reach out to us. We want to hear from you. What ways have we as a union, conference, ministry or church been exclusive, behaved with prejudice or treated individuals unfairly? What way can we be more inclusive? How can we educate our members? How can we support unity? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, we invite you to join the Southwestern Union on Tuesday, June 9 for Together We Pray, a Union-wide day of prayer. Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., we will be praying on the hour for comfort for the families of the bereaved, peace, justice, wisdom, and open hearts for God’s guidance. A joint closing prayer will be held at 8 p.m. Join by calling: + 1 346-248-7799, and entering ID: 999 2529 0222 or visiting Zoom.org and entering ID: 999 2529 0222 and password: 718996
As the body of Christ in the Southwestern Union, we can make a difference. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is the answer: it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Let us love our neighbors as Christ has called us to do. Stand up, speak out, educate yourself and your families. We can stand together, support each other and behave in Christ-like manner. Let us take a close look at ourselves and see where we can do better, imploring the Holy Spirit to “create a new heart and renew a right spirit” within each and every one of us.