The President’s Desk |Dr. R. Clifford Jones

The president’s desk is an opportunity for our President, Dr. R. Clifford Jones to share thoughts on the strategic plan voted in by the Lake Region Conference Executive Committee. In these posts the president will address & highlight the areas that will continue to lead our conference forward and break ground into new areas of ministry and mission.
 

STATEMENT ON THE SHOOTING OF JACOB BLAKE

Another African American man has been unjustifiably shot—in the back, no less—by a white police officer.  Another round of violent protests by enraged citizens has erupted as a consequence. Another plea for peaceful demonstrations has been issued. Another state of emergency has been declared. Another contingent of the National Guard has been deployed.


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MOMENT OR MOVEMENT

The moments are indelibly seared into our collective consciousness.  Unarmed, handcuffed, and pinned to the ground by the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, George Floyd cries and pleads for his mother as his life is snuffed out.  Running away from an Atlanta cop after a scuffle in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, Rayshard Brooks stumbles and falls to the ground after being fatally shot in the back by the cop.  It is difficult to watch the videos that depict Floyd’s descent into death and the collapse of Brooks and not recoil in revulsion.

 

In the weeks following the horrendous deaths of Floyd, Brooks, and other African Americans before them at the hands of police officers, protests and demonstrations took place in the United States and around the world.  Whether organic or organized, the protests were grounded in the belief that the deaths of these African Americans at the hands of law enforcement personnel were unjustifiable.  The theme of the protests was simple. “Black Lives Matter.”

 

It appears that the deaths of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks represent a seminal moment in our nation’s history.  Something about the way each man died touched a raw nerve in people, stoking reaction in blacks and whites, and in old and young alike.  Condemnation of the actions of the police officers responsible for the deaths was generally swift and decisive, and came from small organizations and large institutions.  Overwhelmingly white crowds took to the streets with signs screaming “Black Lives Matter.”  A momentous moment unfolded.  The spring of 2020 was a hinge moment, a molten moment, in the tortious history of race relations in the United States.

 

What may be the message of the watershed moment, and, more importantly, will the moment morph into a movement?  The message of the moment is that people are fed up with the lack of justice and the seemingly blatant disregard for black life in this country.  The message of the moment is that law enforcement must be held accountable, and that thoughtful and long-term change are needed in how communities of color are served and protected by police.  The message of the moment is that racism must stop, and that sustainable change must be ushered in. 

 

People are praying that this moment is one of recalibration and reset, that a fundamental shift in how people of color are viewed and treated in this country will take place.  People are crying out for change.  They want to maximize the moment.  They want the minute to become a mile, indeed a marathon, of hope and institutional, systemic change. 

 

Difficult conversations about race are now taking place, and that is to applauded.  For far too long race has been a taboo subject, the proverbial elephant in the room that is rarely acknowledged but often lurking and looming in the shadows.  Considered America’s “birth defect” by some, race continues to profoundly impact life in this country and around the world.

 

Only time will tell if the loud protests and demonstrations we witnessed in the immediate aftermath of the slayings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and others will result in a sustained, permanent shift in how the broader society thinks of and treats people of color or a temporary phenomenon spawned by the heat of the moment.  The answer as to whether the moment will become a movement that lasts and brings about tangible, discernable, and measurable change lies within each of us.  You get to decide; and I get to decide.  And we must be willing to invest our energies and expend our resources to that end.

 

Black Lives Matter, Too!

Clifford Jones

Pastor/President

 

 

 


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THE MILESTONE & THE MOMENT

The last week of May 2020 will go down in American history as one of infamy.  The week will not be remembered for a positive discovery or development that benefitted humankind, but for a milestone in the war against the coronavirus (COVID-19) and an incident in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that together starkly show the tenuous state of race in the United States at the time.

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WE WEAR THE MASK

“We wear the mask that grins and lies, It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, . . . Why should the world be other-wise, In counting all our tears and sighs? Nay, let them only see us, while we wear the mask.”

 


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LOOKING OUT FOR THE LEAST

Image: “I was Hungry,” by Nathan Greene 
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matt. 25:45, NIV). Are you aware that April is National Child Abuse Prevention month? Isn’t it ironic that April 2020 finds millions of American children sheltering in place at home as a precaution against contracting or spreading the coronavirus (COVID-10)? In some states, public and private schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. E-education will be the modality of teaching and learning during the pandemic. 


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