Statement from the President and Board of Trustees
Our country and communities have been grappling with the unjustifiable and tragic shooting of an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery. Regrettably, such instances of violence towards our brothers and sisters of color, which can often be met with delayed, if not denied justice, have been a well-chronicled stain upon our national narrative and collective conscience. As a blood-bought, spirit-filled community of Christ followers, our voices must be heard. We will lament and speak out. We cannot accept the public silence of our communities around this issue. Scripture says, “there is a time to weep… a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4), and we are to “…mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
I recently asked Professor Jeffery Bird to share his perspective on this terrible event and help us consider how we might think and respond in a godly way. May this move us all to thoughtful and intentional action as we seek truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Suggested Response in the Wake of the Ahmaud Arbery Shooting:
As I am sure by now most of us have heard, if not seen, the disturbing story and video images of a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, being senselessly gunned down in the streets, while jogging, at the hands of at least two, perhaps three white perpetrators.
Unfortunately, this is an image that is all too familiar in our nation's history, reeking of the stench of racism and injustice that serves as an unwelcome reminder of the underlying ills still plaguing this great country of ours. The fact that it has taken over two months since its occurrence and only now, that a video has surfaced, has it received national and global attention, is in and of itself abhorrent.
What should our response be as individuals, as believers, as a community of faith and an institution of higher learning in the wake of such a horrendous incident? Challenging, trying situations can either bring out the best or worst in people. We are believers yes, but we are also people first, and as such we have natural, visceral responses that are invoked when tragedies such as this occur. For people of color who have had to endure the horrific scarring of generational, institutionalized racism for hundreds of years, it is as if the scab that yearns so deeply for a permanent healing is continually being ripped open, becoming more painful every time. For those who are in the dominant culture, feelings run the gambit from disgust, empathy, deep regret, and support for the victim at best, to indifference, intolerance, or justification for the perpetrators, as if it was the somehow the victim's fault, at worst.
As children of light, we are called to be THE light. As we are in the light we must see the REAL enemy that is behind these types of mindless attacks on our God intended way of life. The enemy is not the "white man" or the "black man" or the "brown man" or any other man, for we wrestle not against flesh and blood. We must see the enemy for what it/he really is and that is the enemy of EVIL. Evil unleashed in our world has a name, and his name is Satan. But bless God, that "Greater Is He That Is In Us Than he That Is In The World!" We must realize that we are in a constant war. As a former military officer, one of the strategies in defeating an enemy is that of divide and conquer. That is what the enemy of our souls, the devil/Satan would love to do to us – a family of believers, but we must have an answer. So, what should our response be:
- PRAY – we must pray boldly against the evil of racism, within and without the body of Christ. We must pray boldly for the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" in the way we relate to one another as people and for our country. We must pray for change and justice in our nation, in our families and in our relationships. "Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:16)
- LISTEN – Praying alone is not sufficient, we must also be sensitive to what the Spirit of the Lord is speaking to us. For some, He may be telling us to forgive people who have wronged us or apologize to those whom we may have wronged based on cultural differences or insensitivities. For others, it may be following some specific Spirit-led course of action of reconciliation or activism. Let "he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying unto the churches". (Rev 2:7)
- OBEY – "faith without works is dead" and "obedience is better than sacrifice". If He says to forgive someone, just do it (it's not just a good NIKE slogan), If He says apologize, just do it. Be sure you are hearing from the for Lord yourself and if He says to participate in a form of activism, i.e. appealing to elected officials, business leaders, targeted economic engagement etc., just do it. For many of us, it is performing random acts of kindness to people we know as well as total strangers. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Mat 5:16)
Throughout scripture we are exhorted to be of good courage, be of good cheer. President Angie Richey has declared this as a "Season of Courage" for our LPU community. As our Lord and Savior reminds us "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" ( 1 John 5:4). Let us keep on praying, keep on listening, and keep on obeying in faith that we may see the victory in our lifetimes and forevermore.
Humbly submitted, Professor Jeffrey Bird
Join us as we learn, grow, and use our collective voice!
President Angie Richey & The Board of Trustees
LPU Board of Trustees
Dr. Michael Whyte, Board Chair
Rev. Mario Barahona
Dr. Kneeland C. Brown
Dr. Glenn Burris
Rev. Fernando Castillo
Rev. El Clark
Rev. Jon Cobler
Rev. Jessie Cruickshank
Mr. Mike Day
Rev. Tammy Dunahoo
Rev. Crystal Guderian
Dr. Daniel Hedges
Mrs. Fawn Imboden
Rev. Randy Remington
Mr. Howard Ursettie
Mrs. Margie Waldo Simon, Board Vice-Chair
Mr. William Watson
Rev. Scott Weaver
Mrs. Winnie Long, Trustee Emeritus