Responding to the Death of George Floyd

By the Office of the President

May 28, 2020 | 2:30 p.m.

Bethel community:

We reach out to each of you today with broken and grieving hearts. On Monday, May 25, a handcuffed black man named George Floyd died after being pinned to the ground with the knee of a white police officer on his neck. Three other police officers at the scene refused to intervene. Their refusal to act was a powerful demonstration of what silence and inaction in the face of brutal injustice leads to for many people of color in our nation.  

For me (Jay), this brought back memories of the death of Philando Castile in 2016, when I said, “It is dangerous to be a man of color in America." Four years later, the same can be said today. It is still dangerous to be a person of color in America.

For me (Ross), this strikes home as I reflect on the reality that safety and risk for my black grandsons are dramatically different than they are for my white grandson. Trustee and Pastor Rod Hairston challenged us at our Board of Trustees meeting yesterday: “How would you feel if George Floyd were your son, your nephew, your father, or your brother? He is our brother. Racism is very simple: It is sin. It’s that simple.” And for many of you, Pastor Hairston’s question isn’t hypothetical. Because of the color of your skin or your children’s skin, you experience trauma-inducing instances of racism every day. 

Along with our partners at Converge, we grieve for the families and friends of those whose lives have been taken—people like Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and countless others. As truth-seekers, we are called to recognize these tragedies for what they are: evidence of systemic racism. As reconcilers, we are called to uphold the worth and dignity of all people. As Christ-followers, we are called to live out the teachings of Jesus by seeking justice for George Floyd’s death.

We condemn racial and judicial discrimination in all forms. We pray for healing. And we are committed to ensuring that Bethel will be a community that works for justice, peace, and unity among all people. In the next week, the Office of Christian Formation and Church Relations will host a time for us to pray, share, and come together as a community. 

Jay Barnes, President                         Ross Allen, President-elect