ngry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Matthew 25:34-36 (NRSV)
My name is Floyd Mays and I have been attending the 9am service at First Pres for a little over a year. I have met some of you at services and Family Night, but many of you I do not know. If you don’t mind, I would like to take a moment to speak to you about all the turmoil and chaos taking place in the world right now.
As a black man, I must say it is a very scary and frightening time to be Black in America. With the death of George Floyd, I have been very cautious about leaving my home or interacting with the world around me.
I am terrified and seize up every time I see a police car. I am scared, not only for myself, but for friends and family who are raising young black men. It’s a struggle day in and day out to be Black in America and George Floyd’s death is a prime example.
While I don’t agree with all the looting and destruction that is taking place all over America, I am sad to say that I feel my brothers’ and sisters’ pain. The blood, sweat, and tears that those protesters are shedding is a fight for equality, justice, and a fair chance to live the American Dream.
My people are fed up and are at our breaking point with the unfair treatment of blacks in America. While I think protesting is a good way to make a statement, I do believe a different solution is needed to see dramatic changes.
Because First Pres is my church home and a predominantly white congregation, I am seeking your moral support and understanding of the pain and suffering you are seeing broadcasted on television. I would ask that you would open your hearts, to dig deep and try imagine a world where no matter how educated, kind, or good you are to people you are solely judged off the color of your skin.
More than ever the black church members/visitors of the church are longing for acceptance, understanding, and refuge. By “refuge” I mean a shelter, a covering, a safe heaven and protection from all the negative, racist, and unfair treatment we endure outside our homes.
We want to walk into the church knowing that we are loved, cared about, and, most importantly, wanted! If anything positive should come from these times, it is growth within yourselves to look past the color barriers and to see us all as God people.
Suggestions for where the church could show support:
- Write a letter to George Floyd’s family
The Estate of George Floyd
c/o Ben Crump Law, PLLC
122 S. Calhoun St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301
Attn: Adner Marcelin
- Hold a memorial service in remembrance of George Floyd and others who have lost their lives to racial injustice (invite the surrounding community through Live Stream if we are still social distancing)
- Reach out to the black members of the church to see if they need any support
- Encourage members to be more vocal in the community or the church about the unfair treatment of black men and women
- Provide bail money for local protesters who are being locked up and cannot afford bail payments (chicagobond.org)
- Post a statement of solidarity on the church’s website allowing any person who stumbles across the site to feel welcome.
- Show genuine love and support for members who are of different backgrounds.
- Take time to be educated about black life in America. Read How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi or for a history of the legacy of racism in Chicago read the article The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/