Lord, when will this stop?

Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USAErvin Stutzman is executive director for Mennonite Church USA.

I’m writing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I’m a guest at Mennonite Church Canada’s biennial assembly. When we gathered on Wednesday evening, we sang, “By the Rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept….” Several times during our assembly, we were encouraged to express lament for some of the things we were experiencing. My laments grew out of the tragic events back home in the Unites States.

I grieve the loss of two black men’s lives by police shooting – Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota. My heart goes out to their families and loved ones, and the communities whose fears of armed police are running at an all-time high.

These shootings carry the ugly marks of racism, a systemic and pervasive sin that runs deep in all parts of our nation. I cry out, “Lord, when will this stop?”

I am deeply disturbed that African American men and women in our churches, neighborhoods and communities – even members of my own staff – regularly face racial profiling. They are less safe than White folks on our sidewalks or streets, when even a routine arrest for an alleged traffic violation can turn into an occasion of confrontation and violence.

We must find ways to heal this wound in our land; we need a radical reorientation to transform suspicion and anger into trust and reconciliation.

As a White person in a position of power in the Mennonite Church, I want to call other White folks in this denomination to pay attention, to make space for the voices calling for justice and change in our midst, and to seek concrete ways to confront racism in our communities, our congregations, and in ourselves.

I grieve too for the police force in Dallas and the people who lost family members in the tragic shooting of police there last Thursday. I echo the words of Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister of the Western District in Texas, who wrote earlier this week:

It is with a heavy heart and much pain that we ask you to pray for the peace and for the welfare of the city of Dallas. What was intended to be a peaceful demonstration in downtown Dallas on Thursday turned into a place of darkness, violence and death. We lament the loss of human lives and repudiate the acts of violence that have filled the streets and neighborhoods across the country. May the light of Christ continue shining through us in the midst of this dark moments in which we live.

Yes, may the light of Christ shine on St. Paul, on Baton Rouge, and on Dallas, and every place where violence has left its ugly stain this week. And may the love of Christ lead us together toward a future free from the sins of racism, oppression and violence.

May God have mercy on us all.



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9 thoughts on “Lord, when will this stop?

  1. Ervin, thank you for sharing this lament of tragic racially motivation acts of violence in these three cities. God, heal our land. “Lord, listen to your children praying…”

  2. I Too Grieve For ALL Those Families That Lost Loved Ones So Senselessly, And Needlessly. Things Just Should Not Be This Way In This Day And Age.
    I Have Joined A New Group Of People Who Have Started The #LoveMatters Movement. This Started By My Friend From Conrad, Arkansas. This Is Not Saying That Black Lives Don’t Matter…It Is Saying That ALL LIVES MATTER Period, Point BLANK!!!
    We As God’s People NEED To Come Together And Show The World That We Are Going To Let It Start With Us….We Need To Rise Up In The Face of All This Hate, And Love ALL People Regardless Of Race, Creed, Sexual Identity… No Matter Who We Choose As Our God Or Where We Choose To Worship. Hate Is Nothing More Than Fear Being Acted Out Of Things That We Are Not. Educated On.
    Speaking Of #LoveMatters… Mr. Ervin, I Have Yet To See You Respond To Your Article From Love Is A Verb…The Article Where You Claimed You Were Going To Do Something To Help Resolve The Conflict Of Allowing Pastors To Marry Same Sex Couples. Remember, You Helped To Get Rid Of One Of The Finest Pastors In ALL Mennonite Churches In The Continental USA. Remember, The Pastor From Chapel Hill Fellowship? I Am Fairly Certain You Haven’t Forgotten…As Much As You Probably Hoped That We Had All Forgotten. No Amount Of Horrible Happenings In Any Part Of The USA Is Going To Sweep, Loving ALL People Who Walk Into Our Churches…Under The Carpet
    We Need To Be Accepting Of ALL People, Because Jesus Died On A Very CRUEL Cross For ALL People! And We Need To Exercise The Fact That “LOVE IS A VERB” To ALL People, Regardless If They Are Black, White, Jew, Asian, Muslim, Indian, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender….Or A Combination Of All The Above!! #ALLLoveMatters

  3. Why does the blame for this fall on the shoulders of the police?? Due to history and reputation certain a types of people raise suspicion. It doesn’t matter what their race or color is. Where is the responsibility in the black race? Are they blameless? How many people raise their caution flag when a group of Harley bikers drive by? Or when a bunch of kids walking down the street smoking and wearing their pants down below their rear ends? There are all types of people that raise caution flags. Weren’t we taught to not run with that type of gang or person if we did not want to get lumped in? Don’t walk down the street weRing a hoodie and your pants down around your ankles if you don’t want to be profiled. Don’t mouth off or resist if you are stopped. If I were a police officer I would probably shoot first and ask questions later if I were in their positions. Thank God I’m not a police officer. I won’t even go near a gun because I know my temper and lack of tolerance for this type of baloney. If you want respect show respect.

    1. Sue, when were you last profiled because of the color of your skin? Racism is sin. PERIOD!

  4. I
    what you have shared and feel at one with you!

    I appreciate and support you ongoing work on our behalf!!

  5. Interesting that you have become judge and jury of those police officers last week. Regardless of what the short videos show, a legal process needs to be completed to know the WHOLE truth. You have judged those policemen without knowing them or what truly happened. Look at the other cases in the last year – what was the knee jerk reaction by the community and what came out in testimony. The killing in Ferguson should have never been an issue. Is there racial profiling – yes. Do we need to continue working on it – yes. Do police need to be held accountable – yes. But don’t jump over the legal process and make a quick judgment – it’s not fair on either side and we are all innocent until proven guilty.

  6. Brian Fulmer, it is a falsehood that Ervin has “become judge and jury of those police officers.” How on Earth did you come to that conclusion.

    That said, these homicides, like all homicides, should be investigated exhaustively and transparently. That does not always happen. For example, it took over a year of pressure from the public and from the media to get the dash-cam video of the shooting of Laquan McDonald released for public viewing and *only* after that was the police officer charged with murder. The only case that I am aware of where the police acted promptly in arresting and charging one of their own was in North Charleston SC and that was only after independent video evidence surfaced that the police officer shot the running victim in the back several times.

    The problem is not that police are being prejudged by the public. The evidence consistently shows that, otherwise innocent, young men of color are being prejudged by white policemen who act, not only as judge and jury, but also as the executioner as well. That is no hyperbole, just the facts in evidence.

    Please be more honest about your critique.

    1. -> R B-J
      “The evidence consistently shows that, otherwise innocent, young men of color are being prejudged by white policemen who act, not only as judge and jury, but also as the executioner as well.”

      Where can we find this evidence to help us in our campaign? I see that 92% of black murder victims are killed by persons of colour. But I can’t find support for our position as you have described it. White policeman have identified non-criminal persons of colour, and decided ahead of time to kill them?
      We need to be careful to avoid inflammatory rhetoric. Based on your information, persons of colour would be justified in violent attacks on white policepersons.

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