As news, photos and other details surface surrounding the shooting death of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery—a 25-year-old who was jogging near his home in Brunswick, Georgia—United Methodist church leaders and others speak out about the tragedy of his death, gun violence and racism.
“In the wake of this killing, we grieve the hearts broken and trust shattered. Arbery’s family and the families of all victims of gun violence remain in our prayers for comfort, peace and God’s grace,” said South Carolina Bishop L. Jonathan Holston in a statement. “As United Methodists and followers of Christ, we are firmly committed to social justice and unrelentingly opposed to gun violence and racism. We encourage opean, honest and compassionate discussion and cooperation centered on respect and justice for all. Our responsibility is to shine God’s light in a dark world, dispelling the shadows of hatred that divide us.”
The Council of Bishops also issued a statement on the killing, noting they join the General Commission on Religion and Race and the General Board of Church and Society in condemning “this senseless killing, and racism and white supremacy in every form.”
“The list of innocent black lives who have been needlessly killed grows each day,” said COB President Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. “Parents of black children live in fear each and every day that they themselves or a member of their family will be the next victim as the pervasive culture of racism and white supremacy grows each day. In fact, voices inciting racism and white supremacy have been given a greater place within our political government. While there are laws against racial discrimination in the United States, in practice, little has changed. It is time for The United Methodist Church to take a stand and to join our prayers and our actions and denounce our complicity.”
She added, “As bishops of the church, we sound the clarion call for the eradication of racism and white supremacy. Racism is real and it must no longer exist in our communities.”
Here are viewpoints written by three clergypersons in the South Carolina Conference on the killing of Arbery: