A call for peace and engagement in Oakland

June 21 2016
June 21 2016
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By

Friends,

This post is primarily aimed towards those of you who live in Oakland, however, I think it is a useful reminder for all of us to consider how we can follow Christ in a way that seeks God's shalom (wholeness and peace) for the cities in which we live.

This Wednesday Oakland City Church is holding a night of action for peace on our streets. Last week two men were shot right outside their church and one man died. In order to support our brothers and sisters at Oakland City Church, I’m cancelling our first Love One Another discussion this Wednesday (6/22). I feel that it is essential for us in light of our love one another series to join them. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Praying and working for peace is imperative for our discipleship, not an add on. This is a tangible way to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and work for peace in our city together ("A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:34-35). Here’s a link for the vigil. It would be great if you would to have folks join me in this expression of love. Let me know if you have questions. We will begin meeting for the Love One Another discussion group the following week (6/29).

I would also like to bring your attention to an important measure that the city council will be voting on July 5th. The city council will decide whether or not to put on the November ballot a measure to create a Police Commission made up of civilians. I have attached the proposed measure for your reading. And here are two links that explain it (one and two). In light of the recent abuses and scandals that have come to light in the OPDand the OPD’s history (going on 13 years of being under Federal oversight), it is important that as citizens of Oakland and Christians we think deeply about how to address systemic injustice.

I know this is a sensitive issue and for some of you, it may make you uncomfortable to have your pastor getting “political”. However, I would like to propose that being a follower of Jesus requires us to engage the political sphere. We are sent out into the world to be Christ’s witnesses by Jesus (Acts 1:8). As His disciples we cannot withdraw or ignore the pain that unjust systems cause in our communities. God cares about justice and peacemaking, therefore, we the church need to care about justice and peacemaking. Finally, lest you think that I am anti-police, I would like to assure you that I think that the large majority of police officers are good people trying to do the best they can. However, systems and cultures persist that allow for a small minority of officers to perpetuate biased and unjust treatment of the people they are called to serve and protect, especially people of color documented recently in this Stanford University study.

Please consider how you might become more informed and how Jesus may be calling for you to speak up or act for those victimized by unjust systems that persist in our city’s police department.

How can you become more informed? Would you be willing to pray for our police department, mayor (Libby Schaaf), city administrator (Sabrina Landreth), your city council member? Would you consider writing your city council member expressing your views and concerns for justice and public safety in Oakland? Could you join on me on a 2nd Friday Ceasefire walk as an expression of love for our city?

Peace

Patrick