Message from Bishop Palmer on George Floyd, Racism, and the Church

Dear friends in Jesus Christ:

What a season we have been through and what a week we are in. The angst and pain are palpable. I need you to know I share that pain and I see me in some way shape or form every time I see video clips from Minneapolis and around the country. I have no illusion. It could have been me. That’s the world in which we live. The death of George Floyd is a painful sequel to much that we have seen before. God help us if you please. I grieve for the Floyd family and all the families that have had the same or similar experience. God heal their hearts. I shudder as I watch the burning in Minneapolis, but I do watch and choose not to look away. Looking away perpetuates avoidance. I look not to condone but to be drawn deeper into the compassionate heart of Jesus our savior. Lord give us eyes to see.

I have been in many calls and interactions this week about the killing of George Floyd. I have listened to confession and been the recipient of wonderful words of love, gratitude and grace as have many others. I am grateful. I have also fielded many an inquiry or sensed an expectation for me to say or do something that helps others to find direction and their voice. I am honored. But I want to take this opportunity to remind you that the question is less about what I (one voice) am going to do and more about what you and we are going to do. Every baptized Christian already has the authority to act like, walk like, talk like a disciple of Jesus the Christ. I will speak, lead and guide in ways that help to aggregate voice and impact of our witness but right now you are salt, light and yeast if you choose to be. So how will you incarnate the love and power of the Risen Christ in all the places where you live your life? Let me be clearer. Are you prepared to challenge racism and supremacy in all the places you see, here and experience it? It is more rife than what may finally make into the news cycle. It is historic, accumulated, systemic institutional and personal. It is everywhere all the time. Lord help us to see, hear, act.

My friends settle in for the long haul. By that I intend to prod you to not settle for a few cathartic experiences over the next several days or weeks. Rather let’s go deep and participate in the dismantling of the systems that perpetuate and sustain the evils and isms of this age. I hope you are ready to journey together with me. If you have been listening to me for the past eight years this is not the first time I have issued this very call. But every day is a new opportunity and we must persist as if our life depends on it. Big announcement: It does. It always has. God help us to choose the things that make for life.

To come alongside you in the meantime you will find below links to the audio of some conversations that I participated in post the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. If you listen deeply you will hear lament, encouragement and transforming hope. I hope you find it helpful until I reach out to you again. The close with two quotes. One is a tweet I put out a couple of days ago. The other is a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer I am trying desperately to live into day by day. Help my prayer and faith to be one.

“I can breathe but the continued assault on my/our common humanity is causing me to have shortness of breath”

Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness and pride of power and with its plea for the weak. Christians are doing too little to make these points clear rather than too much. Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer