Why "Black Lives Matter"?

It’s a Church issue.

To insist that black lives matter, for followers of Jesus, is to believe that all are created in the image of God. We have done all kinds of things to distort this image, but God is restoring it and reconciling the world. We are called to join in that work.

It’s about equality.

To insist that black lives matter is to insist that persons of color deserve equal dignity and concern as all other persons, without exception.

It’s contextual.

To insist that black lives matter is not less than insisting that all lives matter. We specifically insist that black lives matter because the historical and contemporary injustice done to people of color demands it.

It’s everyone’s—and no one’s.

To insist that black lives matter is not to endorse individual groups or positions or to oppose police as persons. It is not a justification of violence but a rejection of violence in every form.

It’s not enough.

To insist that black lives matter means we must be willing to have difficult conversations with others—and with ourselves. We must listen. We must acknowledge. We must repent. We must speak up. We must act.

Learn more by reading Westminster’s full-length statement on Black Lives Matter.

An excerpt from Rev. Stokes’ Black Lives Matter sermon:

“As a white person in America, I need to pay attention to the voices of African-American communities like that. I find it’s not so easy. I find that, as a white person, it takes repeated and intense effort on my part to hear.

“My experience in conversation about race has taught me a couple of things that are not in the statement. The first is that, as a white person, I know I have the option not to think about race. People of color have taught me that they don’t have that option. Race is a persistent factor in their awareness. The second is that, when people of color talk about their experience of race, it is risky to do so. They risk having their experience denied, rejected, discounted—it is a common experience for people of color to be told, ‘That’s not what happened.’

“It is good for us white folks in particular to be in this conversation. We think it’s a good thing. Maybe we don't have the language exactly right yet. Maybe we need to repair the sound system and turn up the volume. But the immediate goal must be to enter into relationships deeply enough that we learn how to speak justice, even if imperfectly. And surely there is more. The Westminster statement reminds us at the end that the [yard] signs are insufficient by themselves: ‘Our life together must be converted so that it demonstrates the truth of this claim in material form.’”

-Rev. Chandler Stokes,
January 16, 2016

The full sermon is available to watch or read.

Taking Action

Westminster has a Justice and Peace committee, as well as a Racial Justice Action Group. These groups explore issues of racial injustice in the greater Grand Rapids area and how to respond and advocate. They educate themselves, then promote opportunities for anyone to get involved: listening to people different than you, attending local panels or discussions on issues of racism, supporting an advocacy organization, or speaking up when you witness implicit bias in your own life. If you’re a part of the Westminster family and would like to join, reach out to Heather at heatherc@wpcgr.org.

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