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.
 

A NEW CHAPTER

Warmest Christian greetings. I pray you and your loved ones are basking in the sunshine and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

As you may or may not know, I have accepted a call to serve as the Dean of the School of Theology at Oakwood University, effective July 1. Transitioning to the “School of the Prophets” will bring to an end my role as President of the Lake Region Conference. Thank you for the privilege of partnering with you in mission and ministry for the last 7 years, and please know that your love and support significantly contributed to making my service meaningful and memorable.

The process for electing my replacement is clearly outlined in the Constitution and Bylaws of the Lake Region Conference. Please expect to hear from Elder Garth Gabriel, Executive Secretary, in the near future with information regarding the process. According to the Constitution and Bylaws, Elder Gabriel will become Acting President of the Conference upon my departure. Thank you for receiving and supporting him during this period of transition and change, as well as in the days ahead.

As we prepare to write a new chapter in the Lake Region Conference story, let us be thankful for each other and continue to claim God’s promises of provision and protection. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).

Shabbat Shalom!

R. Clifford Jones, Pastor/President

“Encountering Christ. Engendering Change. Enriching Communities.”


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VERDICT OR VICTORY?

Guilty. Guilty. Guilty. It was the proverbial shot heard around the world. The word ricocheted from city to village to hamlet and from country to continent. In years to come, people will be able to recall exactly where they were when the guilty verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder and manslaughter trial were read out loud by the judge, the defendant showing little or no emotion.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers sworn to protect and serve our communities captivated all classes of people. It gave impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement, as thousands thronged the streets of major American cities last summer in protest. When the guilty verdicts were read, people applauded and danced in the streets.

On every hand and by every measure, the verdict was rare. While some saw it as a victory, others have chosen to view it as just what it is, one verdict. The justice system worked this time, thanks in large part to the engagement of concerned onlookers, including an alert teenager who shot videos of ex-officer Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd on the ground for over nine minutes. The graphic video triggered intense disgust and profound horror worldwide.

The United States president stated that the verdict, while significant, won’t be enough to stem the tide of police misconduct in the nation. Acknowledging that the struggle for racial justice is far from over, others hope that the verdict will come to represent the start of a new phase in America’s tortuous march toward justice.

In a sense, the trial of Derek Chauvin transcended the events that took place outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis last Memorial Day. The American legal system and its ability to deliver justice to all people regardless of race or ethnicity was on trial. Americans and people worldwide paid close attention to the case, waiting to see if justice would be served this time, and a collective gasp was emitted when the judge read the guilty verdict, and Chauvin was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

In the midst of the Chauvin trial, an unarmed young black man was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a mere ten miles from Minneapolis. Around the time Chauvin was being convicted in a Minneapolis courtroom, a black teenage girl was shot to death by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio. The teen was brandishing a knife and refused to heed the police officer’s call to drop the weapon. Calls for the cessation of killings like these two and that of Floyd continue to reverberate around the country, as are appeals that police reform and sensible gun control legislation be enacted and implemented.

Ours is a broken world of deeply flawed people. We long for heaven. “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders” (Isa. 60:18, KJV). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away . . . And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:1, 5, KJV).

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). Shabbat Shalom!

Clifford Jones

President


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WE STAND WITH OUR ASIANS BROTHERS AND SISTERS

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, a lone gunman shot and killed six Asian women and two other people in the Atlanta area. The horrific incident sent shock waves throughout the country and jolted the Asian American community. Condemnation of the mass killing was swift and included a rebuke from President Joe Biden. It appears that the gunman targeted Asian Americans, who have experienced a surge in violence since COVID-19.
 

The Lake Region Conference (LRC) joins all concerned Americans and people of conscience and good will in condemning the senseless act of violence that ended the lives of innocent people. Without question, what happened in Atlanta, GA, was an act of ethnic and gender violence that has no place in a civilized society.


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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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