In response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and subsequent protests nationwide against police brutality, the EPC has issued a Call to Lament, Prayer, and Fasting for Monday, June 8.
“I am profoundly grieved by the tragic events unfolding in our country in recent days,” said Jeff Jeremiah, Stated Clerk. “The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd—and countless others over the years—followed by protests, riots, and destruction have again exposed the vein of unequal justice that has existed for far too long in our society.”
The Call: All members of EPC churches set aside Monday, June 8 as a day of lament, fasting, and prayer to cry out to God for His help in the midst of this crisis in the United States.
Jeremiah noted that a key difference between the June 8 emphasis and previous EPC calls to prayer and fasting is the addition of “Lament.”
“I read two short articles on lament recently, which I believe are especially relevant to this time in our history,” he said. Those resources are:
- “Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well,” available at desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god
- “What Does Lament Mean? A Biblical Definition of Lament or Lamenting,” available at patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/08/20/what-does-lament-mean-a-biblical-definition-of-lament-or-lamenting
“As social unrest escalates, it is appropriate for the church to lament this crisis to the Lord, to fast, and to pray about how we as believers in Jesus Christ can be part of the solution to the racism, inequality, and injustice that violate the ideals enshrined in our Constitution and laws,” Jeremiah said. “I hope that all of our pastors let their congregations know about this call to humble themselves and pray to almighty God for His grace, mercy, and love to heal the divisions in our country—and especially for God’s people to repent of the sin of racism.”
Specific prayers and other resources will be available on the EPC website soon.
In related actions, the EPC National Leadership approved two motions in a special called meeting on June 1 to encourage EPC Teaching Elders during the crisis.
The first recommendation is for Teaching Elders “to address this week with the congregations they serve the tragic and senseless death of George Floyd and the extreme indifference to his life demonstrated by the police officers who have been disciplined and/or charged with his murder. Mr. Floyd’s death is emblematic of a pervasive historical pattern of disproportionately aggressive policing in far too many communities of color.”
Jeremiah noted that Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words “are just as applicable in our time as they were in his: ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’”
The second recommendation is for EPC Teaching Elders and congregations “to consider acting, as the Lord Jesus Christ leads, to speak out for justice and equality; to speak against racism, injustice, and inequality; and to work to arrest the origins of civil unrest—namely, poverty, racial separation, immorality, and a lack of radical love.”
Teaching Elder and NLT Member Case Thorp, Moderator of the 39th General Assembly, noted that protests in response to Lloyd’s death “carry with them a sincere understanding by the greater public like I have never seen before.”
“We get it,” Thorp said. “The anger and rage of so many are not without cause. Likewise, I am grateful for the vast majority of our men and women in law enforcement who get up every day to serve the citizenry in faithful ways. This is not an ‘either/or’ moment, but a ‘both/and’ opportunity in America’s journey. My hope is we have peaceful assemblies crying out for justice, and those causing violence find their energies best expressed in a peaceful political process.”
An additional NLT action on June was for a Zoom meeting designed for EPC Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders to be scheduled for after the June 8 Day of Lament, Fasting, and Prayer.
“This event will include leaders of color in the EPC who will address the appropriate ongoing response to this crisis,” Jeremiah said. “The goal is to help provide insight to the questions many of us may have.”
Additional details will be announced soon.
“What is going on has demanded a response from us as a denomination,” Jeremiah said. “May we be the voice of peace, love, and reconciliation that our communities, country, and world so desperately needs today. Now is not the time to be silent, but to speak out for justice and equality, and against racism, injustice, and inequality.”