Voices of Grief, Protest, and Prophecy

Jun 4, 2020

Dear Preachers,

The Ogilvie Institute joins Fuller Seminary, in the strongest of terms, to “denounce the senseless, brutal killing of George Floyd and the countless instances of abuse and othering of black and brown bodies in a long line of systemic injustice. . . . The protests and riots of the past days have elicited a variety of responses. The loss of life is cause for full-throated lament, and it is for that reason that we choose to stand in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones, with those who are seeking justice, and with those who are advocating for drastic and overdue change. We believe this is consistent with the God revealed in our Scriptures, who in both Testaments disrupted established institutions for the sake of justice. . . . [Click here to read the full statement.]

Below are voices of grief, protest, and prophecy from among our Micah Groups community.Let’s stand together in justice and hope. 


This note is difficult to write because my heart is so broken around the public execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday, May 25th. The life was strangled out of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by four non-Black police officers. Being a Black mother of three young adult men is more difficult with each new day. We are trying our best to survive two deadly pandemics at the same time: COVID-19 and Anti-Black Racism. Now, we find ourselves in the midst of an uprising that is misunderstood by most people on the sidelines. Our pain and our reaction to the pain is misunderstood as lawlessness and destructive behavior by so many. One week after the public killing, I’m exhausted from fighting back tears for two days to collaborate with other clergy and elected officials to give my best effort to tear down a broken system of justice and resurrect a better one to the glory of God!!

My faith journey tells me that hopelessness and difficult situations are very often the prime environment for massive shifts by God to bring about transformation for our culture and our world. In the midst of this horrific time, I hold onto the hope that this moment is indeed such a divine moment— that all of this will actually give rise to the long awaited beloved community where all of humanity lives in harmony and peace!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life (Philippians 4:6–7, The Message).

— Joy Johnson, Pastor and Community Organizer


My heart breaks in sorrow—for my black brothers and sisters who have had to endure and fight this injustice for far too long on their own; for our churches’ silence and even complicity in the face of oppression; for the soul of our country that promises so much yet has denied the dreams of so many. I need to confess, I need to find courage, I need to pray, yet I find myself at a loss for words, unable to know where to start.  My denomination provides prayers, to give me words, which I share below. May we live into them.

Almighty God, you created us in your own image: Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and help us to use our freedom rightly in the establishment of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

— Jin Cho, Anglican Priest


In this grievous season when both a viral pandemic and the pandemic of violence runs amok and seemingly unchecked, as a minister of the Gospel and a black man who is a born citizen of this nation, I add my determined and deeply grieved voice, in the most adamant way I know how, with those of the Fuller Seminary Community and the Micah Group Advisory Team. I cry out for justice and lament the horrendous and disturbing treatment of black people in this nation. The recent killings of black people have simply left me gasping, “I cannot breathe,” and asking, when will this end?”

The recent killing of unarmed black people, the inhumane and unconscionable brutal killing of George Floyd, and the countless instances of abuse and violence against black and brown bodies, have shaken me to the core. They poignantly point to the historical patterns and social narrative of injustice and hatred of people of color that is ongoing today. Such bigotry and violence have seeded the very founding of this nation. Sentiments of black inferiority and the providential superiority of white people are at the core of the seared national conscious of this country. There must be a revival of conscience and an urgent call for justice to move forward towards a brighter day of justice and peace for all.

I add my voice to those who denounce the systemic injustice in this nation and the abuse of power seen in the historic treatment of peoples of color.

I stand with all who call for justice and accountability for those who violently and callously killed George Floyd, Breonna Talyor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The time for action in the name of justice and love is now.

As a man of faith and goodwill, I stand for justice and pray for the day when justice and love triumph over darkness. A day when brother does not marginalize oppress or kill brother. This is my aim. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” May it be so, Lord Jesus.

— Michael E. Stafford, Worship & Arts Pastor


“I can’t breathe.” It will take awhile for these haunting words to stop echoing in the depth of my soul—I can’t breathe. My heart wept as I heard George Floyd pleading for his life and watched a police officer’s knee on his neck, kneeling with his hand in his pocket mind you. I couldn’t take my eyes off his hand in his pocket. I can’t breathe. Then I panicked, how am I going to preach a Pentecost message to my mostly Anglo congregation? I can’t breathe! 

I denounce the inhumane act of injustice that was executed on May 25 to George Floyd. This systemic pandemic, racism, must be eradicated. Enough is enough! It will take divine intervention to do so. So, allow me to offer a prayer.

Lord Almighty, giver of life, give your people a renewed Breath of Life, make your people human beings once again. Breathe in and through our city’s nostrils, leave behind righteousness, mercy, and justice. I can’t breathe in this smog of injustice and inhumanity. Breathe on us, Jesus. In the name of the resurrected Jesus Christ. Amen.

— Debbie Daley-Salinger, UMC Pastor


I add my name to the many lists of people that are deeply lamenting the systemic racism that bears the fruit in the murder, trauma, dehumanizing policies, and injustice of people of color from the foundations of our country. George Floyd was murdered publicly while not only other people were watching, but while we were watching. Sadly, there has been hundreds of years of this very thing…that we have never seen. We are at a tipping point. The scales on our eyes, like the apostle Paul, have come down. We have been kicking against the goads for far too long without realizing it. My response, in my own embodied faith, must be repentance for being so blind and complicit for the majority of my life. And after repentance to turn around and work alongside of Jesus and his advancing and expanding Kingdom in which the gates of hell will not prevail. There is much work to do…the root of racism must be pulled and we need to labor on behalf of our neighbors for all the law and prophets are based on that.

— Bret Widman, Covenant Pastor and Professor

A Litany for Oxygen from a Black Jesuit

Patrick Saint-Jean, a black Jesuit priest living in Chicago, offers the reflection linked above lamenting the continued suffocation of justice in a broken system crying out for oxygen:

Crying out for an America where we can trust the police.
Crying out for an America where our right to life matters.
Crying out for an America where we can be seen and heard.
Crying out for an America where we can enjoy the same privileges of breath.
Crying out for oxygen that is not polluted by the contagions of racism.


A diverse group of pastors in Sacramento, CA offer their personal testimonies of pain and healing around society’s narrow vision of race relations. This video is part of “Vision” in the First Things curriculum for Micah Groups.


Stay tuned for future opportunities to gather with church leader peers for worship & conversation.

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