I wanted to share a word from NWC Superintendent Mark Stromberg on the Chauvin Trial Verdict, and offer a few of my own thoughts at the end.
Dear NWC Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The long-awaited trial for Derek Chauvin has rendered its verdict of guilty on all counts. There may be a collective sigh of relief over justice being rightfully carried out in the unjustified killing of George Floyd, yet we also know that there remain many reasons for us to reflect with sober judgment on all that has taken place in the past year relative to race relations in our land.
This particular verdict does not answer the question as to how we move forward from here. We know that hearts remain heavy, even as levels of fear and mistrust persist. We know that prejudice and racial disparities exist. We know that there are many questions left to be answered and so many different perspectives on how our world can become more caring and just.
And while there may be nearly universal acknowledgment that the courts got this one right, we also recognize that, even within the Church of Jesus Christ … within the Covenant … yes, within the NWC … there are differing vantage points on the broader complexities upon which we do not all agree.
It is during such times that I ask you to pray and keep your hearts and minds centered on our Lord. After all, our unity and hope are found in Him, not in our politics or personal experience or preferences. We will never be “cookie-cutter” people, nor is that what Christ calls us to be. However, we are called to be conformed to His image. In this, we are called to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We are called to bear one another’s burdens and to count others as better than ourselves. We are invited into a relationship with our Heavenly Father which truly binds us together as His sons and daughters.
As we continue to pray, may God grant us wisdom and grace as we seek to walk in obedience and live into His high and holy calling as children of the heavenly Father … brothers and sisters in ways that both honor and transcend ethnicity and culture.
Mark R. Stromberg | NWC Superintendent
As I (Jeremy) have processed the trial and the verdict, I personally agree justice has been served in this case. It is appropriate to rejoice with those who are rejoicing the guilty verdict and the lengthy prison sentence that awaits Derek Chauvin.
Still, Jesus calls Kingdom People to go beyond just retributive justice that punishes wrong-doers for their crimes. Kingdom people are called to pray for and seek a higher and more enduring justice. Restorative justice dares pray for the restoration of the murderer as well, a kind of justice that takes Jesus’ “enemy love” seriously in a world that often scoffs at it.
So, I am rejoicing with the Floyd family insofar as this verdict brings some relief and closure. I am trying to empathize with the full weight of the pain and loss inflicted on the Floyd family, and realize no length of prison sentence will ever bring George back.
But I am also trying to hush the less Jesus-shaped part of me that would find joy in another’s person’s punishment, dance over another’s demise, feel gitty over a guilty verdict — no matter how much they deserve it. The scandalous grace of the Gospel offends our sense of justice, and call us to long for a deeper and fuller resolution and restoration.
So, while I rejoice over justice served, I want to be Jesus-shaped enough to also pray for Derek Chauvin as he is led away in cuffs, that the light of the gospel and the message of forgiveness will penetrate the walls of his solitary confinement. I want to pray for his restoration and for the Final Court where he (and all of us) will someday stand trial.
As we advocate for police reform, we must also advocate for all the good and decent — heroic — men and women in blue who go out each day to protect and serve us. These are very difficult times for people in uniform.
As a member of the clergy, I can emphasize with the broad-brush attacks and unfair perceptions many people are developing toward law enforcement officers. The widespread clergy abuse scandals of the past decades have made many people suspicious toward all the good and godly women and men who serve the church. The media only reports clergy scandals and police malpractice. All the godly people who wear “the collar” and wear blue don’t get the headlines.
So, in our divided political and media landscape that tries to force us into false binaries, let me urge us to transcend this divide and do ALL of the following:
- Support and pray for the good women and men in blue.
- Hold accountable those bring shame on the profession.
- Acknowledge systemic racism and work for change.
- Advocate and work for needed police reform.
These are just my personal thoughts as I continue to ponder these complex issues as a follower of Jesus. So, let’s keep loving God and loving others, and loving means to learning to listen better to all sides.
Remembering the words of Jesus, “Seek above all the Kingdom of God and His kind of justice” (Matt 6:33).