Dear Sisters and brothers in Christ,
Along with countless others across our country and around the world, we have waited through the trial of Derek Chauvin, with increasing anxiety about results and responses, for a judgment by a jury of his peers on his culpability in the alleged murder of George Floyd. As has been affirmed by their verdict, the nine and a half minutes during which he knelt on George Floyd’s neck constituted an act of murder. While it is important to remember that the actions of one police officer do not define the thousands of dedicated and responsible law enforcement officials who risk their lives daily carrying out with integrity their vocation to protect and serve, it is also essential that we recognize how this verdict speaks to a history of inequality, oppression, and fear.
For those who have lost confidence in our justice system, or whose sense of security in law enforcement has long been compromised, the judgment arrived at by the jury in Minneapolis offers, if not a beacon, at least a glimmer of hope. It allows them and all of us to imagine anew that efforts toward reform are both possible and worthwhile.
We speak of hope as a light because it illuminates a way forward. Its value, therefore, can be measured in our willingness to take the next steps in becoming what God dreams for us to be: just, merciful, reconciled to one another and to God, a beloved community, a light to enlighten the nations, our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers – indeed the body of Christ. True hope, whether a glimmer or a beacon, illuminates truths about ourselves as well as it defines a path forward for us.
It is our prayer and our responsibility to embrace that hope and all that it reveals about who we are now and where God is calling us to go, especially as regards our own racial self-awareness and the systemic racism of which we are a part. It is up to us whether this and any hope simply shows us who we are or leads us to the image in which God created us, whether it moves us from emotion to action. The Diocesan Council and the Commission for Racial Justice, newly reconstituted by the last Diocesan Convention, are collaborating to provide leadership and resources to congregations and individuals alike for following that path.
The hope we have received reveals that there is hard and important work before us. I have confidence that, with the companionship, inspiration, and encouragement of these committed bodies, there is much we can and will do. May that hope continue to light our way.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio