Learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
Beloved Epworth Community,
Today is a significant day. It is a day to reflect and take stock, to remember and to grieve, but also to be strengthened and hope. Today marks the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. George Floyd was a father, a brother, a grandfather. He was a basketball star in high school and rapper written about in the New York Times. He worked to mentor younger men and encourage others away from violence even as he had his own struggles with addiction and incarceration.
George Floyd was not a perfect person. He was an individual with his own story, flaws and gifts, but his story is also symbolic in the way it bears the marks of systemic racism. His great grandfather was a slave, but then acquired 500 acres in North Carolina after the Civil War. That land was taken from him through the levers of white supremacy. George Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward, the edge of which is about a mile from where I went to college, but a world away in terms of opportunity.
Epworth’s Beyond February Art Installation seeks to lift up the lives of Black persons killed as a result of police violence, and broaden the focus on their lives to include not just the trauma that ended their lives but the fullness of their living. Epworthians researched the lives of persons killed, and created a tribute piece that has now been installed at the Hopkins entrance at Epworth. The project was shared in the California-Nevada e-newsletter last week. You can view images of the tributes here, and see the consecration service here.
The Beyond February project is one of a number of racial justice initiatives and studies Epworth has engaged in over the last year. This fall, a process of learning and engagement for the full congregation, culminating a day of holy conferencing is being planned. Through holy conferencing, we ask the questions, “What is God saying to God’s people? How is God calling us to witness and act?” If you would like to be a part of designing this process, please let me know. The design team will begin work on June 6.
I hope you’ll take some moments today to lift up all persons of color who have lost their lives due to police violence, as well as their families and friends who remain. I have been deeply moved by the ways in which our congregation has grown in humility, trust, understanding and commitment. Today is not an end point, but rather a marker along the journey.
Grace and peace,