Most Christians agree George Floyd’s death was wrong – but violent protests are never the answer either.
Sadly, daring to voice that view in public these days could get you smeared as a racist or worse.
But God has given these pastors the courage to speak out – and it’s working.
As protests have turned into riots endangering thousands of lives, church leaders across America have prayed about the appropriate response.
“Our land needs a healing and we are asking God to help us find love because we need love,” said Apostle Carl White, Jr., a faith leader at Victory Christian International Ministries.
His sentiments have been echoed by religious leaders everywhere who fully mourn the killing of George Floyd as a sinful and wrong act.
But these leaders have also cautioned citizens to practice restraint and show love in these trying times. Killing, burning, and looting have no place in the work of justice.
“Only the hard work of love will set us on a path towards justice,” stated Cardinal Blase Cupich, another leader.
And right now, “the hard work of love” looks like peaceful marches and protests that bring a sense of unity and normalcy back to devastated communities.
Pastor Chris Harris, who shepherds Bright Star Church in Chicago, led one such march through his neighborhood and highlighted the need for peaceful action rather than careless destruction.
“We are asking that you don’t destroy your own communities,” Harris said. “That you learn how to do it peacefully.”
Pastor Harris also reflected on the need for faith and trust in God during this trial, wondering if the tragedy of George Floyd’s murder might move some communities toward Christ.
“We are asking African Americans to deal with the pandemic of COVID and the epidemic of racism and inequality,” Harris said, pondering the struggle of black communities to process the events of the past several weeks and months.
“Faith enters the equation because if you lose a belief in something, including yourself, and a brighter future, then guess what, you become hopeless.”
The attitude of faith brought to hurting communities by these peaceful marches has lifted spirits, says Pastor Andie Cork who led a similar event in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
“I think this was the answer [to the pain of George Floyd’s murder],” Cork said.
After obtaining a permit from the local police, Pastor Cork led a small group of people from his church through downtown Fredericksburg. Others from different churches also joined the procession to show their support.
“This has been amazing,” Pastor Cork stated. “At the very base level, [what we have accomplished] is bringing together a group of likeminded people.”
“I’ve been so disheartened by what I have seen and have maybe gotten a little cynical,” he admitted.
“But good Christians stand up for what is right.”
Cork is right – good Christians need to stand up for righteousness and model peaceful action in their communities.
At a time when the world seems to be going insane, the church can demonstrate solidarity with the oppressed while still maintaining order.
That’s what Pastor John Brice was “very intentional” about during his church’s peaceful march in Philadelphia.
When Pastor Brice heard his march was headed towards an encounter with another potentially violent protest, he made a split-second decision to meet the other group head-on.
“It started out with just doing a prayer walk,” Brice said. “But then once we heard about how there were more protests going on [elsewhere], we made a left [and met them].”
“We knew exactly where we were,” Pastor Brice added firmly.
And his decision offered peace and reconciliation for marchers, protestors, and bystanders alike.
“It wasn’t our goal to win or to beat up or to shame someone else,” Brice said. “Our goal was to change hearts.”
When Brice’s churchgoers met the other protestors, the two groups united and held a peaceful demonstration—a cleansing moment for the neighborhood.
“It was people coming together all for black lives,” Brice reflected joyfully.
Pastor Brice, Pastor Cork, Pastor Harris, and so many other faith leaders around the country are part of a “grassroots effort” to bring the church into activism.
The movement is changing hearts and lives while also bringing hope and peace to the terrible situation exposed by George Floyd’s death.
Please pray for these pastors as they do “the hard work of love” and prayerfully consider your role in this movement!