Prayers for Memphis

As I write this week’s Epistle, Tyre Nichols is being laid to rest in Memphis. 

I don’t know that I have more relevant words to share on his death than those of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Bishop Phoebe Roaf of West Tennessee.  Presiding Bishop Curry’s statement is here, and Bishop Roaf’s is here. I think I’d rather center the reflections of these two faithful Black leaders of our church, whose grief, anger, and direction I value and desire to follow. 

Bishop Curry begins: “Sense cannot be made of the murder of a young man at the hands of five men whose vocation and calling are to protect and serve. This was evil and senseless.”

Bishop Roaf writes to her diocese: “Local, state, and federal agencies have responded quickly to the situation and I am grateful for their efforts, especially MPD Chief CJ Davis. All five officers face criminal charges resulting from their involvement in Tyre’s death. There is nothing we can do to change what happened. However, it is time to move from discussing these issues to taking action. Changes in law enforcement policies and procedures are necessary so that no one else will have to experience what the Nichols’ family is going through. Episcopalians in West Tennessee are prepared to be partners in this important work.”

Eight years ago, Trinity United Church of Christ in St. Louis made a video called “Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival” in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. Following the rules for Black Americans–and other people of color–does not guarantee to be able to get home safely. If you did not have to give your child “the talk” about how to interact with police, I encourage you to watch the video and compare your own experiences of interactions with law enforcement. 

I pray today for the Nichols family, for the City of Memphis, and for all who are grieving. 

2 comments on “Prayers for Memphis”

  1. These are very powerful statements. How many must die before we begin the hard work of eradicating the systemic racism that poisons our criminal legal system. How many must die before we deal with the violence that manifests in not only in police violence but also in mass shootings.