Dear Church Family,

As we near the end of this day, Pentecost Sunday, I hope you have had the opportunity to engage in meaningful worship. During these times of quarantine and physical distancing, the gift of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate on Pentecost, is what has allowed us to continue to enter God’s presence wherever we are.

Over the past few days, we have become increasingly aware of the pain and division in our country caused by systemic racism. The death of George Floyd is a recent reminder of our long history of racism, something for which many of our neighbors need no reminders.

One of the disadvantages of pre-recording worship is the inability to respond to events and situations as they unfold. This morning, as our family was preparing for at-home worship, I felt a sense of regret that the worship service would not directly address in any way this issue that is now at the forefront of national attention.

Especially on a day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to all believers so that the gospel may be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, we must, as followers of Jesus, speak up in love on behalf of our neighbors, remembering that we are all created in the image of God.

So as this Pentecost Sunday draws to a close, I would like to offer this Evening Prayer by Greg Jao of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. May we be mindful that the way we see and experience the world is shaped by our own past experiences, and may we truly try to understand how others experience the world differently. May we stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters, and may we pray, “Lord, have mercy…”

Evening Prayer
I will never experience what Black mothers tell me, that they fear for their children’s lives when their kids jog in their neighborhood or play in the park, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black fathers tell me, that they are cautious and wary every time they’re challenged by a white woman because they know who the authorities will believe if there is a confrontation, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black preachers tell me, that they are welcome in evangelical circles only if they preach reconciliation without using words like repentance, restitution, or justice, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black young men tell me, that they were taught by the parents to roll down the window, to put their hands on the steering wheel, and to avoid any movement when stopped by the police, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black children tell me, that their abilities and gifts are often overlooked or diminished at school, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black colleagues tell me, that they are followed by campus security whenever they come on campus (and in stores when they shop), but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black women tell me, that they will never know if they were turned down for a job, a mortgage, or a lease for legitimate reasons or because of race, but I believe them.
I will never experience what Black friends tell me, that their bodies are breaking under the weight of experienced racism, the chronic disinvestment in their communities, and the systemic looting of their communities, but I believe them.
Lord, have mercy. I believe them.
With love and hope,
Pastor Jennifer Rygg
First Baptist Church of Pendleton