Pastoral Letter: May 29, 2020

Dear friends,

As I write this pastoral letter, Minneapolis burns for a third night. Riots and looting continue in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, an African American man, by a police officer. Tonight the third precinct police station in Minneapolis was overtaken by rioters and set ablaze.

I’ve seen anger and frustration expressed by white people, for example in our neighbouring Michigan, with the inconveniences imposed by a virus. The prospect of being shut down and sequestered for months was enough to push white Michigan residents to take up arms and stand down the state legislature and Governor. But people of colour in North America have suffered the virus of racism for decades individually and centuries collectively. With no vaccine for racism in sight — in a culture unrushed to develop a cure — Minneapolis burns for a third night.

For these past weeks of the pandemic, my pastoral letters have aimed at calming, soothing, reassuring, and amplifying hope. But just like Paul’s letters to the early church in the New Testament, pastoral letters must sometimes disrupt our comfort and complacency. If you’ve heard me preach in my almost year at Strathroy United Church, you know that my sermons don’t shy away from discussing the news of the day, even when difficult. As our economy reopens and people slowly return to business as usual, so also with my sermons.

This Sunday is Pentecost. The church celebrates its beginnings, activated by God’s Spirit represented by fire. The church should not be afraid to handle fire, even when that fire burns controversially as riots and looting. I ask you, as an important member of our church family, to do what you can during this shut down to stay connected to your congregation. For most folk, that may be limited to watching a sermon video online. Perhaps you can log into Zoom for 10 minutes on Sunday morning.

Be part of the fire that continues to burn as Strathroy United Church. We have work to do in this community, and we can only do it together. We may not be able to extinguish the fires of injustice burning in Minneapolis. But we have our small corner of the world needing care. Care for one another. Care for God’s Creation. Care for Jesus Christ, whom we meet in our suffering neighbour.

Yours faithfully,
Rev. Dr. Brad Morrison

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