Midweek Message

LABC Update – August 30, 2023

Jim Hopkins

September 1, 2023


American Baptist Churches USA -Statement on Hate Crime in Florida
August 28, 2023

As General Secretary for the American Baptist Churches USA, I am writing to express sympathy for the families of the latest hate crime that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida on August 26, 2023. It is deeply saddening, unsettling, and disturbing to hear of another crime motivated simply by hate that took the lives of three innocent people. We pray for the families of Angela Michelle Carr, Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr, and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion who died as a result of this senseless act of violence.

This week’s anniversaries of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech provide a challenging reminder that the work of antiracism must continue. In the 1963 words of Martin Luther King Jr, “One-hundred years later (following the Emancipation Proclamation) the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.” It has been sixty years since we heard this speech of a prophetic American Baptist. Sixty years later, Black people still live in fear of violence simply because of the color of their skin. Sixty years later, the pervasiveness of racism is still frightening. Sixty years later, the urgency of the moment is still urgent.

Racial violence and hate crimes that now span more than two generations following King’s Dream Speech should challenge us all to do more by educating ourselves about the history of and pervasive nature of racism in the U.S. and combatting the behaviors, policies, and practices that perpetuate violent acts against our Black brothers and sisters. In the words of Mahalia Jackson, too many have been “buked and scorned.”

“Racism, whether individual or corporate, is a sin against God. With grief we find racism to be one of the most pervasive examples of sin in our country…We will challenge the covert and overt violence that is the tool which gives expression to the hatred of one racial group for another.” (From the American Baptist Policy Statement on Racial Justice, adopted by the General Board of the American Baptist Churches in June of 1983). “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt… (Martin Luther King Jr.)
May these latest victims of Angela Michelle Carr, Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr, and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion as well as O’Shae Sibley, the ten Black victims of Buffalo, and too many more always be remembered.

Dr. C. Jeff Woods
General Secretary
American Baptist Churches USA


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