I write this letter with mixed feelings of sadness, frustration, questioning, and hope, and yet reminded that the world we live in is imperfect.
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer and the footage that has been watched by several people around the world is a painful thing to process. Masks have become especially important to breathe fresh air and yet the police’s knee was used to kill George as he was crying to be given a chance to breathe.
I have asked myself three questions this week:
- How does a police officer go home and report how their day was at work after killing somebody, especially if that person is innocent?
- What motivates this kind of anger in a police officer with a gun and surrounded by three other police officers with guns to not listen to the cry of George, “I can’t breathe?”
- As a black man in this country, how do I tell a positive story about police officers in a country conflicted with racial injustices between white and black people?
1 Corinthians 13:4–7 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
What does love mean for us as Christians? How do we practice love amidst ongoing protests and social distancing? How do I control my mouth and allow those impacted most to speak out their fear? I have struggled to put this in words and the more I have been asked by my 7–year old son, “Dad, why do white police hate black people?” the more I have felt obligated to write as I struggle to clearly and in an age-appropriate response answer my son’s question. I use my writing as a way of processing the sadness and tears I have shed because of how George Floyd was killed after begging several times to be given a chance to breathe. My son knows not all white police officers hate black people.
I want to remind you that the United Methodist vision is to be a connection of vibrant congregations with fruitful leaders and faithful disciples transforming the world by doing no harm, doing good, and staying in love with God. We celebrate our values of being Missional; Accountable; Called; and Connectional, [MACC) in all that we plan, envision, and do. Furthermore, our mission is “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” How do we do this amidst protesting and pandemic social distancing restrictions going on in our communities? I take ‘LOVE scripture’ very seriously. I encourage you to do the same.
I have been blessed by the love and support that comes from my Task and Operation team members, leaders in our churches, the Indiana United Methodist Extended Cabinet, and my family. They have opened doors in churches and homes to bless my ministry. Our pastors have worked so hard to prepare for a new future of doing church. I continue to meet with great police officers and their families in our communities. Their faith, love, and continued support of the churches, district, and conference is beyond my level of appreciation. They are the best people ever. I ask you kindly to take responsibility for condemning violence associated with peaceful protesting in our communities. Join me to fight again institutionalized bigotry, discrimination, violence, privileges, and other isms. Read 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 John 2:11 Exodus 22:21.
May God bless you as you work with me for the sake of Christ.
Rev. Dr. Saneta Maiko,