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A Time for Lament and Action
Deaths in LA, MN, and TX Demand Faithful Response

President Martin B. Copenhaver addresses the killings of Texas police and African-American men in Louisiana and Minnesota:


Dear Friends,

I come to you with a heavy heart as -- again, again, and yet again -- we are confronted with images of senseless violence that are shaking the very foundations of this country. The psalmist’s cry is my own: “My heart is in anguish. How long, O Lord? How long?” (Psalm 6:3).

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are the latest African Americans to lose their lives at the hands of police officers in a wrongful use of force. Now the anger that such horrific incidents provoke has prompted another person (or persons) to kill and wound police officers who were protecting the rights of their fellow citizens to march in protest. And so the cycle of violence continues. It must end.

Please join me in offering prayers for the victims and their families. This is not an off-hand request. The need for prayer is urgent in this time. At the same time, more is required.

We must not flag in our zeal to root out both the racism and the violence that, we confess with our tears, are endemic in this country. To state the obvious: These are not isolated incidents. They happen every day when the cameras are off. They are tragic examples of the related sins of racism and violence that have a death-grip on our culture.

It is appropriate in this moment to respond with both grief and protest. Over time, however, other qualities will be required from us -- determination, tenacity, stamina, what a philosopher called “long obedience in the same direction.” We are called to be the people who work for peace and justice even after the hot lights of media attention have turned elsewhere.

I am grateful to be part of a Christian community that is committed to social justice -- to fighting racism and to challenging our country’s love of violence. Even in this time of transition for our School, we will not -- and must not -- lessen our commitment to these values we hold dear.

In faith,

The Rev. Martin B. Copenhaver

President, Andover Newton Theological School

July 8, 2016

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