An Open Letter from Black Clergy: A Call for Racial Justice, Healing and Reconciliation

Dear Colleagues,

As members of the clergy we have been called and compelled to care for all of God's people. Therefore we would like to offer our deepest condolences to the families of Michael Brown Jr., Eric Garner, Wenjian Liu, and Rafael Ramos. Together we affirm that each one of these men were children of God and that all humanity, men, women, children and youth are a part of God's sacred (holy) creation. We stand in prayer with each of these families and all who must now face the reality of their first holiday season without the presence of their loved one.

While each of these deaths is tragic on an individual level, we also acknowledge they have unearthed the reality of longstanding racialized tensions in America. More specifically, we believe that all of these incidents have unveiled the ongoing tension between communities of African descent and law enforcement nation-wide.

In his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed, "There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, 'When will you be satisfied?' We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality... We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Reflecting upon these words we are keenly aware of the fact that many are entering this holiday season with unspeakable grief and a spirit of dissatisfaction. As faith leaders of African descent we hold sacred the words God spoke through the biblical Prophet Amos that were repeated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many other civil rights activists, "let justice roll down..." As a collective and as individuals we are seeking ways to fulfill this divine imperative in our nation. Let us state clearly that we do not believe that God's divine justice involves violence nor does it condone the taking of innocent lives. Yet with each tragic incident we feel a divine and urgent call to actively engage in the work of racial justice and reconciliation in this country. Racism has been a thorn in the side of American justice since its inception. The process of removing that thorn will not be easy or painless. We do not believe segregation, violence, silence, denial or void and baseless rhetoric have been effective tools in this battle against American racism.

We are Black clergy who represent a diverse constituency. We are therefore calling on clergy of all ethnicities and faith traditions to join us in leading our nation toward healing and reconciliation. We are asking you to join us in finding more than symbolic ways to address this issue that has plagued our nation since its inception. We are asking you to join us in appealing to your elected officials, opening your doors to protestors, holding community forums that encourage dialogue and communication between the community and law enforcement and/or doing the work in your individual houses of worship and communities that will ultimately bring about restorative justice.

Yours in prophetic hope,

Members of the Black Clergy:

Rev. Dominique C. Atchison, United Church of Christ, Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY,
Rev. Dionne P. Boissiere, Church Center for the United Nations
Rev. Kymberly E. McNair, Associate Minister, Antioch Baptist Church, Bedford HIlls, NY
Rev. Clinton M. Miller, Pastor, Brown Memorial Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY
Dr. Gabrie'l J. Atchison, Ph.D. Unity Fellowship Church Columbia, Maryland
Dr. Wilhelmina Perry, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent
Rev. Kymberley Clemons-Jones, Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. Margaret Aymer Oget, Ph. D., Presbyterian Church USA
Rev. Isaac S. Lawson, United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Yvette D. Wilson, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Union Theological Seminary & Executive Pastor, Abundant Life Transformation Seventh Day Sanctified Church
Rev. Dwayne E. Meadows, Union Theological Seminary
Elder Derrick McQueen, Union Theological Seminary, Moderator Elect Presbytery of New York City, St. James Presbyterian Church
Dr. Lisa Robinson, United Church of Christ
Rev. Harold J. Eichelberger, United Methodist Church
Dr. Kim R. Harris, PhD, Roman Catholic Church
Rev. Eugene R. Palmore, United Church of Christ
The Reverend Lorena M. Parrish, PhD, New Brunswick Theological Seminary and American Baptist Churches USA
Min. S. Raschaad Hoggard Abyssinian Baptist Church/Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Elder Rev. Kevin E. Taylor and Rev Janyce L. Jackson Jones Co-Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church NewArk
Rev. Mia J. Douglas, United Church of Christ
Rev. Leslie Oliver, asst. Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte
Rev. Stephanie A. Duzant, MSW Associate Minister - Social Action Ministry, St. Matthew's Community AME of Hollis Queens, NY
Rev. Cheryl M. Walker, Unitarian Universalist
Pastor Arthur R. Barnes, Senior Pastor/Founder Abundant Life Transformation Seventh Day Sanctified Church
Rev. H. Keyon Gaston, M.Div.
Rev. JoAnne Marie Terrell, PhD, Chicago Theological Seminary
Rev. Michelle E. Armster, Transitional Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee Central States
Gary V. Simpson, Senior Pastor and Emma Jordan-Simpson, Executive Pastor, Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Brooklyn, NY
The Co-Pastors of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore, Elder Harris Thomas and Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington
Candace Simpson, M.Div., 2017, Union Theological Seminary
Mikael Elam MDiv V.P of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent. Director of Wounded Healers of St. Paul Community Baptist Church.
Rev. Leonard Curry, AME Church, PhD Candidate Vanderbilt University
Rev Joyce Dugger, Protestant Chaplain, Hofstra University
The Co-Pastors of Unity Fellowship Church of Baltimore, Elder Harris Thomas and Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington
Reverend Leslie D. Callahan, Ph.D., St. Paul's Baptist Church, Philadelphia PA
Rev. Vanessa M. Brown, Pastor, Rivers At Rehoboth, NYC & Rivers of Living Water, NJ
Reverend Sherisse M. Butler, Itinerant Elder, 4th Episcopal District African Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. Marilyn Bowens, Pastor, Imani Metropolitan Community Church Durham, NC
Min. John Thomas, Community of Faith Family Worship Center, Brooklyn, NY
Min. F. Romall Smalls, M.Div., Associate Minister for Social Justice, Grace Baptist Church, Mount Vernon, NY/Affiliate Chaplain-NYU, Student Christian Movement of NY (SCMnyc)
Dr. Colleen Birchett The Riverside Church of New York
Rev. Mykal O. Slack, Founder, 4LYFE Ministries of MCC; Director of Worship, The Sanctuary Boston; & Community Life Coordinator, First Parish Cambridge.
Darrell Fitzgerald Jr., Minister, IHS Sonlite Support Services.
Rev. LeQuita H. Porter, Senior Pastor, East Preston United Baptist Church, Nova Scotia, Canada
Gwen Horner, Interfaith Minister, The Empowerment Zone
Rev Grace Richardson, Senior Pastor, The Power House Church of Healing & Deliverance Inc.,/Executive Director of Community, Growth and Opportunity, Inc. Staten Island, NY
Bridget Kelso Anthony, M.Div Candidate, 2015, Union Theological Seminary
Rodney McKenzie, Jr. , M.Div Candidate, Student Senate Co-Chair, Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Alma Faith Crawford, Pastors Without Borders, Chicago
Ashley Birt, Rutgers Presbyterian Church
Rev. Rashad D. Grove, First Baptist Church of Wayne, PA
Rev. Shakeema North, Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Brooklyn NY
Rev. José Humphreys, Metro Hope Church, East Harlem, NY
Rev. Randy L. Ware, Senior Pastor of the Greater Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Brooklyn, New York
Rev Gail L. Rice, MDiv, Associate Pastor, First Baptist Congregational Church, Chicago, IL
Rev. Jeffery S. Thompson, Pastor-Amity Baptist Church, Jamaica, NY
Rev. Sharon F. Fleshman, Associate Minister, Baptist Worship Center, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Adriene Thorne, Executive Minister, Middle Collegiate Church, Reformed Church in America
Rev. Sameerah Shareef Lansing, Michigan
Rev. Kimberly Council, Associate Minister, Berean Baptist Church Brooklyn NY
Rev. Dr. Kimberlee Johnson, Fellowship of Women Clergy, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Shawn Torres, Associate Minister First Nazareth Baptist Church; Columbia, SC, Progressive National Baptist Convention & Union Theological Seminary, Student
Min. Calvin A. Austin II, Baptist Worship Center, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Robina M Winbush Director of Ecumenical Relations Presbyterian Church (USA), President, Churches Uniting in Christ
The Rt. Rev. W. Darin Moore, Presiding Bishop of the Western Episcopal District and the North Carolina Conference AME Zion Church
Rev. Kimberly C. Rogers, Associate Minister, Baptist Worship Center, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Melvin E. Wilson, Presiding Elder, Brooklyn-Westchester District, A.M.E. Church
Rev. Preston Thompson, Jr. Associate Minister, The Baptist Worship Center, Philadelphia, PA
Rev Althea Bailey, Associate Minister, Brown Memorial Baptist Chruch, Brooklyn, NY
Rev. Ronell Howard, Pastor, East Avenue UMC, Norwalk, CT
Onleilove Alston, Executive Director Faith in New York
Pamela Y. Cook, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Rev. Dr. Mitzi Smith, AME Itinerant Elder
Rev. Vickey Gibbs, MCC
Rev. Angela Denise Davis, Sister Harriet: A Spiritual Collective, Atlanta, GA
The Rev. Rowena J. Kemp, Presbyter at Middlesex Area Cluster Ministry
Rev. Dr. C. Vernon Mason
Dr. Sharon J. Lane-Getaz, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Rev. Bernice Powell Jackson, Pastor, First United Church of Tampa
Rev. Marilyn B. Kendrix, Associate Pastor for Faith Formation, The Church of the Redeemer United Church of Christ, New Haven, CT
Rodney "JP" Reynolds, M.Div., Youth Minister, First Presbyterian Church of Stamford, CT
Rev. Stephanie L. Wooten, St. Luke's United Church of Christ, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Gail Davis, Berean Baptist Church Brooklyn, NY
Benae Beamon, M.A.R., PhD student at Boston University
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith, Crazy Faith Ministries and The SpiritHouse Project
Obery Hendricks, Ph.D, Columbia University, NY, NY
Rev Dr Maritza A. de Gonzalez, Pastor Manantial de Gracia, UCC West Hartford, CT
Rev. Dr. RJ Wells, Senior Pastor, Union Congregational Church, UCC, Harlem, NY
LaRita Logan, M. Div. Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.
Ashley L. Dowden, Covenant United Church of Christ
Rev. Charmaine P. Johnson
Rev. Carolyn L. Boyd, Host, Higher Ground, Inner Light Radio
Rev Cynthia Jackson, Ecclessia Ministries
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath, Ph.D., African Methodist Episcopal Church
Reverend Robyn Anderson
Minister Kim Kendrick, M.Div, Youth Pastor, Living Water UCC Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Alexis Kassim, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ
Rev. Leslie Dowdell Cannon, Peoples Church, UCC
Rev. Aubra Love, Southern Conference United Church of Christ, Asheville, NC
Bianca R. Davis, MA, MDiv Associate Pastor for Children, Youth, & Young Adults 18-35, God Can Ministries United Church of Christ
Minister Jasmin Taylor-Digi Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL
Rev. J. Michelle Mathis, Co-Founder Agape For All Ministries, UCC
Deneen Y. Collins, CTS MDiv Student
Sushama Austin-Connor, Faith Leader
Rev. Dr. Shaun Whitehead, College Chaplain & UCC Minister
Rev. Kyle E. Brooks, Ph.D. Candidate, Vanderbilt University.
Nichelle Jenkins, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Union Theological Seminary
Craig A. Ford, Jr., Ph.D Student (Theological Ethics--Boston College), Member in the Roman Catholic Church
Rev. Conrad B. Tillard Sr., Th. M., Senior Minister, Nazarene Congregational United Church, Brooklyn, New York
Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President; Starr King School for the Ministry (Unitarian Universalist), Berkeley CA
Rev. Neichelle R. Guidry Jones, Associate Pastor, Trinity UCC Chicago, Founder, Shepreaches, Inc.
The Very Rev. Derick B. Wilson, Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church, Philadelphia, PA
Rev. Dr. Lillian F. Reynolds, Associate Minister for Community Based Programs, Grace Baptist Church, Mt. Vernon, NY
Min. Aleisha Langhorne, M.Div 15, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
Joseph L. McKnight: Pastor of the Divine Imperative Ministries, Amherst and Lynchburg, VA
Rev Elder Benita Ramsey, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church Riverside
Pastor Anthony W. Sullivan Jr., Associate Pastor for Community Outreach & Development, God Can Ministries UCC
Reverend Dr. Robert Charles Scott, Central Baptist Church, St. Louis MO
Bishop Dwayne David Royster, Senior Pastor, Living Water UCC
Angela Sims, Saint Paul School of Theology
Rev. Sonsiris Tamayo-DeWitt, The Renewal Church
Rev. Adolphus C. Lacey, PhD, Senior Pastor, Bethany Baptist Church of Brooklyn
Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, Boston University School of Theology
Nicole Angela Tinson, AME, MDiv Student at Yale Divinity School
Jaimie D. Crumley, First Baptist Church of West Hartford, Yale Divinity School
Rev. Dr. Zoleka Adams, Assistant Pastor, Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, Bronx, NY
Natalie Renee Perkins, M. Div. Candidate 2015, Union Theological Seminary
Min. Porsha D. Williams, Mt. Aery Baptist Church
Rev. Sofia Betancourt, Interim Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno
Allen Reynolds, Yale Divinity School
Alisha Lola Jones, PhD, Assistant Pastor, Greater Grace Christian Church Bowie, MD
Angela Marie Jones, MDiv., Assistant Pastor,Greater Grace Christian Church, Bowie, MD
Rev. Dorothy Harris, Pastor, Unity Fellowship Church of Columbia