Following the return of three guilty verdicts in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi shared her personal response as a black woman. She then called on all Christians to "work to bring an end to the racism, bias, abuse of power, and lack of empathy and compassion that continue to lead to the murder of black and brown people across our beloved nation. It is our Christian duty to work for justice," she said.
Here is the Bishop's full statement and a prayer.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
Plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17 NIV)
As a black woman with black brothers and sisters, black nieces and nephews, black aunts and uncles, and black cousins, the conviction of Derek Chauvin feels personal. It elicits a host of emotions. Unlike some, I find no joy in the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin. I remain profoundly sad that Gianna Floyd will live the rest of her life knowing that a police officer murdered her father. I remain angry that a police officer became so intoxicated with power and his own bias that he continually knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck until Mr. Floyd’s life slipped away under the weight of his knee.
I am relieved that the criminal justice system has held Derek Chauvin accountable for murdering Mr. Floyd. The prosecutors, judge, police officers who testified against Derek Chauvin, and the jury have helped me to believe that to them, my life and the lives of all of my black relatives matter. For that I am exceedingly grateful.
Thank you for receiving from a black woman this very personal response to the verdict.
But as followers of Jesus Christ, our discipleship demands that we respond to the injustice that led to the need for this verdict with more than just our personal feelings. Our discipleship demands that we move beyond being reactive, to being proactive. Our discipleship demands that we act to bring about a state of justice - shalom, beloved community, the kingdom of God - for all so that there are no more murders at the hands of those who have been called to protect and serve. Our discipleship demands that we work to bring an end to the racism, bias, abuse of power, and lack of empathy and compassion that continue to lead to the murder of black and brown people across our beloved nation. It is our Christian duty to work for justice.
One of the prosecutors, Jerry Blackwell, referred to the people gathered and pleading with Derek Chauvin to stop kneeling on Mr. Floyd as a “bouquet of humanity”. I am pleading with the “bouquet of humanity” that is the church, to rise up and speak against the powers and principalities that are killing people of color. I am calling on the “bouquet of humanity” that is the church to be self reflective and work on its own bias. I am calling on the church to hold each of its members accountable for the ways in which we abuse our power and authority and for the ways in which we act out of our privilege, bias, and racism.
As a black woman who has black relatives, I am asking that the church stand up and act in a way that demonstrates that I matter. I am asking for the church to act so that some day bishops will not have to write any more letters about protests, trials, or verdicts that have come about someone who was sworn to protect and defend has murdered someone who looks like me.
Book of Discipline, ¶ 162.A :
“We commit as the Church to move beyond symbolic expressions and representative models that do not challenge unjust systems of power and access.”
A prayer for the verdict:
Almighty God, we thank you for the men and women who faithfully carried out their duties as citizens in order to render a verdict in this trial. We lift before you the entire Floyd family, asking you to surround them with your peace. We pray for Derek Chauvin and his family, asking that you reveal your transformative presence to them as they walk through the coming weeks. We pray for unity and understanding in our country and action in our church. In Jesus name. Amen