We appeal to every church in Minnesota to address the deadly violence that has occurred in our nation this past week, including the tragic deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, a 2-year-old child in North Minneapolis and the deaths of 5 police officers in Dallas.
Romans 12 commands us to “weep with those who weep,” and many people in our own state are weeping, whether they be the family and friends of young Black men, or the family and friends of police officers.
Past experience has informed us that when churches have remained silent in moments like now, those who mourn are hurt by our silence when we do not grieve with them.
Since the tragic events of Wednesday and Thursday nights, groups of pastors have already been gathering to lament and pray for peace in groups and networks around our state and nation. Now as we prepare to lead our congregations on Sunday, may God use each pastor to bring comfort, peace and hope through the Gospel of Jesus.
If you find yourself struggling with how to address these events with your congregation, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Remember to pray for all parties involved. Give equal weight to both tragedies, recognizing that every life is sacred, and we mourn the loss of every life.
- Pray specifically for the families of those killed, by name. Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Officer Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Officer Michael J. Smith, Officer Brent Thompson, Officer Patrick Zamarripa, and a Minneapolis toddler.
- Lead your congregation in a time of lament. A reading of a lament from the Psalms (such as Psalm 74 or Psalm 90) would be appropriate.
- Encourage all Christ-followers to expand their relational circles, and be exposed to the social realities of others.
- Embrace a comprehensive understanding of the Gospel as Jesus came as Lord and Savior to conquer both individual sin and systemic sin (including violence, racism, and social inequalities).
Transform Minnesota is helping plan a community prayer gathering, led by local pastors, which will take place Monday July 11th at 7pm at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Click here for more details.
Get involved in our partnership with a recent African American Pastors Coalition that launched last month (read more here). We invite all churches across the state to engage in this coalition of clergy as we seek to end gang violence in our community. There is a gathering for interested church leaders on Thursday morning July 14th at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis. Details can be found here, email Wendy if you are interested.
Together as the Body of Christ we must lament, pray for peace, and offer hope to the world.