A Pastoral Statement on Violence and Racism
Rev. James Lamkin and Rev. Daniel Headrick
Northside Drive Baptist Church
June 1, 2020
As clergy of Northside Drive Baptist Church (NDBC), we believe that every person is made in the image of God and worthy of fundamental dignity. Because of this, we take a clear stand against violence, and against the violence of racism.
As was said by several NDBC members in Sunday School this week, “White silence is a form of racism.” We agree. We confess. We repent. As one friend puts it, “Racism is not Covid-19. It is Covid-1619. This was the year that a slave ship carrying 30 African slaves slipped into a harbor of the Virginia Colony.” If racism is like a pandemic, it is as ancient as humankind; and, certainly as old as the founding of America. Because it is frequently disguised, often times overt, but sometimes unintentional—continuing education about this insidious sin warrants life-long learning.
Some call it systemic racism. Many impersonal forces compose this very personal wrong: cultural, relational, educational, judicial, political, religious, economic, and more. So many, in fact, that privilege can blind us with layers of blinders; and spiritual blindness leads to idolatry.
We believe it is important to name names, such as, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. By doing so we do not perpetuate the appearance of silence; rather, we take daily steps on the long journey toward justice. Their tragic deaths are symptoms of on-going, bigger stories.
Sunday’s Pentecost text heralded God’s diverse hope. The Holy Spirit’s fiery presence embraced and empowered all: women and men, slaves and free, young and old, daughters and sons. Everybody.
As congregational clergy, we will pursue God’s wide hope for our world and faith community. We will study and learn and seek conversation with partners of color; and will acknowledge our sense of privilege.
These are anxious days due to disease. These are painful days as we see the violence racism does to the human race. These are holy days as we yearn to speak the truth in the presence of God.