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‘God has a work for us to do …’

PC(USA) joins other D.C. faith leaders in continued calls for justice after Minneapolis verdict

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Jimmie Hawkins joins other PC(USA) leaders to speak in front of the U.S. Capitol. (File photo)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Faith leaders will gather in front of the Justice Department in Washington D.C. and march to Freedom Plaza Friday afternoon to lament lives lost and demand just policies in policing and an end to racism.

The event is the second observance planned by the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC) following the delivery of three guilty verdicts against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. The first was a Wednesday afternoon event at East Washington Heights Baptist Church in Washington, which was originally planned as a vigil during the jury deliberations but became a modest celebration after the quick verdict.

“It is a day of celebration but also a day of challenge,” the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Associate Director of Advocacy for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), told the crowd on Wednesday. “We are called on this day to never forget, to never forget the name of Breonna Taylor, to never forget the name of George Floyd, to never forget the names of all these young people who have gone before us, and to go forward in our memories to make a difference in this world.

“We have got to keep on going forward. These are just the first steps. Too many children are dying, too many mothers are crying, too many innocent people are still incarcerated. God has a work for us to do, the work of grace and the work of justice.”

The group of faith leaders is drawn from more than 70 Washington offices of national religious bodies and faith-based organizations, encompassing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Humanist faiths. Hawkins heads the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in New York.

Included in the speakers list for Friday’s event is the Rev. Jennifer Butler, former staff at the UN Ministry and now Executive Director of Faith In Public Life. Also speaking will be Yenny Delgado, a columnist for the PC(USA) online social justice journal Unbound. WISC is planning more events in the coming months to keep momentum going following the announcement of the Floyd verdicts.

Hawkins closed the Wednesday event with a prayer invoking the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the prophet Micah: “Give us courage, give us faith, give us love, and give us a quest for justice.”

The Office of Public Witness and Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations are two of the PC(USA) Advocacy Offices, which are part of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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