Dearly beloved of God,
The outrage and horror over the brutal and needless murder of George Floyd, the latest in a string of brown and black people who have died senselessly, brings me to tears once again. The racial injustice that pervades our country and our communities leaves many terrified and in despair. The protests that have erupted out of this moment bespeak the desperate need for listening, healing, and action towards racial reconciliation.
As the adopted father of a young man of color, I have learned over the last 20 years that many of the things that my father taught me about the realities of this world are not true for those who happen to be brown or black skinned. My outrage and heartache does not and will never touch that of those who live the daily struggle of a world where racial bias and injustice abounds.
The primacy of love demands that each of us must respect the dignity of every human being. Sadly, this dignity has been diminished. Whether it is the racist killing of a jogger, biases in our criminal justice system, systemic poverty, healthcare inequalities, unjust immigration policies, or the disproportionate death rate of people of color during this COVID-19 pandemic, I am learning that I must find a way to leverage my societal privilege, authority, and power to confront these injustices and walk in solidarity with all of God’s beloved.
I join with leaders around the country, the church, and in our local communities and beg that we focus on solutions to the systemic problems that surround us and find ways to support the most vulnerable in our communities. To that end, today I have called upon Sandy Milien, Missioner for Community Engagement, and the Rev. Canon Dale Grandfield, Canon Missioner, to assist me in the formation of a Racial Justice and Reconciliation Task Force, as we envision how to faithfully and actively stand against racism and inequality.
As I often say, the heart of Jesus’ ministry was time spent with ordinary people–truly listening to them, and speaking truth about the most pressing issues of the time. I believe we are called to do the same in our communities. We need to hear from each other’s hearts, acknowledge and confront our own biases, and have difficult conversations with each other. The only way forward is together – in love.
In God’s love,
The Rt. Rev. Kevin D. Nichols
Bishop of Bethlehem