Black Lives Matter Statement
June 1, 2020
Black lives matter.
James Scurlock’s life mattered.
George Floyd’s life mattered.
Breonna Taylor’s life mattered.
Tony McDade’s life mattered.
Institutional racism is deeply ingrained in our society. Dismantling it requires a long-term commitment to structural, social, and cultural change. It also requires repentance, recognizing that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and must be treated this way. Further, it requires accountability for the leadership of our cities, counties, states, and nation.
Tri-Faith Initiative, Faith Leaders Collaborative, the Coalition of Concerned Clergy of Omaha, Voices United Omaha, the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Metropolitan Omaha, United Church of Christ-Nebr Conference, Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, Christian Church In Nebraska, First Central Congregational Church, Church On Purpose, Village Zone Pastors and Faith Leaders Collaborative, Clair Memorial United Methodist Church, Urban Abbey United Methodist Church, First United Methodist Church-Omaha, First Christian Church Omaha, Countryside Community Church, Congregation of Temple Israel, American Muslim Institute – AMI, and Omaha’s diverse faith community are calling on faith-based and civil rights organizations to prioritize education and training to motivate action against racism and bigotry. Faith communities, in particular, must do more at the local, state, and national level to address systemic violence against Black bodies. White voices must not be silent on this issue. Black people are dying in our streets. Their lives matter more than buildings.
“Urban Abbey is right there, downtown. And I grieve that the first news is that glass was broken, rather than that a life was taken. I think that shows the intention of who is important and what is important. I would call for us to focus on life,” says Rev. Debra McKnight, Founding Pastor of Urban Abbey United Methodist Church.
In addition to condemning nationwide police brutality against Black people, we also stand in protest that no justice for Black Lives is served by the refusal to hold anyone who takes the life of another individual without cause accountable for their actions. In this regard, we insist that the case of James Scurlock’s death remains open to allow the public to bring forth further evidence for or against Jake Gardner. We stand with the family of James Scurlock in their call for a grand jury to revisit the evidence in this case. We also call on public officials to enact legislation to make bearing firearms at all rallies illegal. We find the actions of Jake Gardner repugnant and reckless.
“We clearly see enough evidence for a trial. Even as it pains us not to see a charge made today, it would be even more damaging to the cause of justice to allow public sentiment to dictate what “justice” truly is. As we see all-too-often, public sentiment, and popular opinion without weighing the evidence hurts Black Lives more often than it helps. Jake Gardner should be brought to trial before he is judged innocent or guilty,” says Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes, Senior Minister at Countryside Community Church.
“To not hold those responsible for the death of Black lives accountable for these deaths is unacceptable for justice to be accomplished,” says Rev. Dr. Chris Alexander, Associate Minister at Countryside Community Church.
“We are standing here as clergy to stand against Black and Brown lives being slaughtered all over this country, and city governments passing the buck, ignoring what has happened,” says Rev. Darrell Goodwin, Associate Conference Minister for the Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota United Church of Christ Conferences.
We, the above named organizations, are committed to working together with local churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples as allies to deepen our understanding of the issues of civil rights, racial inequality, and brutality facing our society.
“We will strengthen our abilities to address these grave concerns, not just with words, but with compassionate and resolute actions as we develop formative action toward lasting change together,” says Wendy Goldberg , Executive Director of Tri-Faith Initiative.
Thank you for standing with the Omaha faith community as we say what should not have to be repeated so many times: Black lives matter.