Don’t wait for justice, says archdeacon at George Floyd’s service in Brixton

“I will use all my breath to speak out against racial injustice, saying that black lives matter,” said Archdeacon of Croydon, Ven. Dr Rosemarie Mallett, said during a service to mark the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd in police custody in the United States (News, June 5, 2020).

Mr Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 sparked global protests against racism that led organizations, including the Church of England, to reconsider their efforts to achieve racial equality (News, June 23).

The ecumenical service of reflection, entitled Doing justice, which was broadcast live Tuesday night was hosted by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland at the Church of the New Testament Church of God in Brixton, south London. The recording must be broadcast as BBC Radio 4’s Sunday worship program this weekend.

the Archbishop of York, Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell; the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Sarah Mullally; the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin; Coptic Orthodox Archbishop Angaelos of London; and the pastor of Jesus House and Pentecostal president of the churches together in England, Pastor Agu Irukwu, were part of the socially remote congregation.

CTBI / YouTubeThe Ven. Dr Rosemarie Mallett

The 90-minute service was led by academic theologian, Eleasah Louis, and charity and leadership scholar Mark Sturge. It started with a series of oral reflections, by Dr Mallett and others, on the topic of “More the Same”.

She said: “From the moment of her painful death, I knew things couldn’t be the same anymore. I thought of him, George Floyd, who died a terrible, racist and deliberately emasculating death, like too many other fathers, brothers, sons. He is no longer and his last words have become our rallying cry.

Floyd, who was 46, died in the city of Minneapolis last June while being held by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, who could be seen in a video kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck during nine minutes. Mr. Floyd was heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” Chauvin was immediately fired, along with three other officers, and in April, a Minnesota court found him guilty of three counts of second and third degree murder and second degree manslaughter (News, April 23).

Dr Mallett continued, “I am not the same anymore. A part of me died on this road as well, the part that shares my indelible, beloved skin color and my deliberately helpless African heritage. I too have been stuck on this street, and I will use all my breath to speak out against racial injustice, saying that black lives matter.

“We don’t have to be the same anymore. We must all stop waiting for righteousness to fall and, as churches, join with others in proclaiming that the time is right for change. And not just to say it, but to actively stand up and speak up.

CTBI / YouTubeIDMC UK Gospel Choir

The congregation’s hymns, sung by the IDMC UK Gospel Choir, included “Upon Christ, the solid rock I stand” and “Guide me, O great Jehovah”. There are readings of Psalms 44 and 13 and the Gospel of Saint Luke (18,1-8) by Pastor Irukwu and Archbishop Cottrell. The service also included sung soloist solos and poetry.

As an act of commemoration, a cross was placed on the dais, at the foot of which students of St Martin-in-the-Fields Girls’ High School and Archbishop Tenison’s School, Lambeth, have dropped candles. A minute’s silence was also observed for Mr Floyd and “all those who have lost their lives in police custody and racial violence” in the British Isles. The speech was delivered by the Managing Director of the Ascension Trust, Reverend Les Isaac.

“The murder of George Floyd was projected onto a world stage,” he said. “It gave a panoramic view of the challenges black people and people around the world face in terms of injustice in the 21st century. . . [It] was not an isolated incident. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have been “displaced and killed with impunity by the perpetrators”.

CTBI / YouTubeStudents at St Martin-in-the-Fields Girls’ High School and Archbishop Tenison’s School, Lambeth

On Wednesday, Bishop Hudson-Wilkin expressed his gratitude to the organizers of the service. “It was important to mark the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd – it reminds us that the deeper issues of racism, marginalization and injustice remain at stake in our world. Justice and love are at the heart of the gospel, and this service was a demonstration of our constant need to walk side by side to speak out against injustices of all kinds, speak the truth to power, and challenge unjust structures.

A virtual memorial service was also hosted by the American Episcopal Church on Tuesday evening. The Presiding Bishop, Most Reverend Michael Curry, said in his sermon: “When the world saw George Floyd murdered by those charged with protecting and serving, something changed. Something has changed. And while we don’t know how it’s going to play out, people have started to pray with their lips and with their legs. ”

The liturgy was designed by the Bishop of Missouri, the Right Reverend Deon Johnson. Lighting a candle at the end of the service outside of St John’s, Washington, he said, “One light has the power to dispel even the longest shadow. As we share the light of these many flames, may these candles be symbols of our burning hope and shining light, so that we may act with hope and compassion to mourn with those who are grieving.

Diocese of Indianapolis

Bishop of Missouri The Right Reverend Deon Johnson speaks at the memorial service

On the same day, the Episcopal Public Policy Network urged its members to pressure Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act 2021 to address racial and criminal justice reform. The legislation would ban strangulations, provide for reinvestment in community programs and seek to reform the practice of police investigations.

The Bishop of Minnesota, the Right Reverend Craig Loya, told the Episcopal News Service on Tuesday that healing work continues in churches in the Twin Cities. “It would be hard to overstate the trauma caused by the murder of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis and beyond, and from that trauma has born a true commitment to the long work of racial justice and healing. “

The diocese has funded the community group Twin Cities Stand Together, which offers a clothing, food and toy bank, and plans to turn its basement at the Episcopal Church of Gethsemane into a charity store. He also plans to start a youth basketball program.

Bishop Loya said: “I was ordained bishop of Minnesota about a week after the assassination of George Floyd, in a cathedral not far from where he was assassinated. It was clear to me at that time that the work of racial justice and healing should be a central part of my work as a bishop. “

Watch the service here
Read the service order here

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