Story by V. Michelle Bernard / Photos by David Turner, Richard J. Gordon
Addressing the Silence
More than a 1,000 Seventh-day Adventists gathered in Washington, D.C.(watch the entire video here), last weekend to pray, mourn and acknowledge the killing of two black American men and five Dallas police officers.
“In the midst of the heated rhetoric regarding the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, God placed in my spirit that across the nation a significant population of our church community was hurt and confused,” says Debra Anderson (pictured below), one of the event organizers and a member of the Potomac Conference’s Restoration Praise Center in Bowie, Md.
Anderson says she, and Emmanuel Brinklow church member Denise Crarey; Miracle City member April Williams; and the Allegheny East Conference’s Washington Metro Ministerium, planned the march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C., to combat the silence, confusion and lack of empathy many felt following the deaths.
“When someone dies, when we are grieving ... sometimes it is the ministry of presence that allows us to feel better. Today all of you are exhibiting a ministry of presence,” she said to the crowd at the MLK Memorial.
Making A Difference
Several church leaders, including Alex Bryant, North American Division executive secretary, denounced the killing. “The church is called to speak truth to power, no matter how unpopular or how inconvenient. … Many are now asking the question, what should we do? What should the church do? What would Jesus do? Jesus is not here today, but through us. He left us a formula and the formula is love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them who despite-fully use you.”
One of the other speakers, David Franklin (pictured above), pastors the Allegheny East Conference’s Miracle City church in a Baltimore neighborhood less than six miles from the spot where Freddie Gray died in police custody last April. Franklin’s church participates in service designed to break cycles of poverty, incarceration rates and help improve education levels. Franklin encouraged the crowd to get active and work to help communities similarly impacted.
“You cannot afford to wait for the organizers of this march to pull together events and activities for you to participate in so you can resolve the issues in your community. The key to solving our issues is everybody realizing the power that you have in your own hand," said Franklin. "You need to go home, get in your prayer closet, figure out what you can do and then move out and make a difference.”