By: Bishop Bruce R. Ough
The Minneapolis/St. Paul community is deeply wounded. The shooting of Jamar Clark, the subsequent protests, the pleas that Black Lives Matter, and now the announcement that the two police officers involved in the incident will not be prosecuted has the community crying out for justice. And, of course, there are different perspectives on what constitutes justice. For the legal system, justice is defined by the evidence (some of which remains disputed). For the families, Northside neighborhoods, and many concerned citizens, justice is defined by fairness and restitution. Tragically, Jamar’s death cannot be reversed and the grief and anger experienced by so many cannot be assuaged.
Both viewpoints have merit and standing in the law. But neither goes far enough to create justice. Justice is about restoration. It is about putting things back the way God intended. It is about restoring the Beloved Community.
The Beloved Community will be restored when segregation by poverty and race no longer exists, when the lines between Northside neighborhoods and suburban enclaves are erased. The Beloved Community will be restored when police forces represent the demographic make-up of their communities. The Beloved Community will be restored when entrenched institutional racism is stamped out and we, together, affirm that every life matters. The Beloved Community will be restored when all children have access to equal, quality education. The Beloved Community will be restored when the death of one black man, or any one of God’s children, becomes the burden of responsibility and grief for all of us.
It is my urging and earnest prayer that all Minnesota United Methodists will embrace this tragic moment as an opportunity to work for justice. As followers of the Christ, we have been given the keys to the kingdom. Let us resolve, anew, to unlock that which binds us from fulfilling God’s vision of the Beloved Community. This is the justice we all cry out for.
Bruce R. Ough is resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church