You most likely heard about it in the national news. On September 16th, an unarmed 40 year old African American male, Terrence Crutcher, was shot to death by a Tulsa police officer, Betty Shelby. Within just a few days, thanks to the good work of our District Attorney’s office, Ms. Shelby was charged with 1st degree manslaughter. She has pleaded not guilty and will eventually go to trial, by which time we will no doubt learn more about all that took place.
But, I suspect, regardless of whatever decision is reached, that our Savior is grieving over yet another loss of life. Regardless of the circumstances, an unnecessary loss of a life that He created. A son, a brother, a friend. Undoubtedly, our Savior also grieves over all the societal issues that swirl about such a tragedy. We’re doing a little better job in Tulsa at naming those issues that we had come to ignore for so long, but we now need to do a much better job resolving those issues. We need more answers. I wish I knew what all those were. But mothers of black children shouldn’t have to inordinately fear for their children’s lives.
In the meantime, we have to do what we do know to do. On the one hand, we must patiently hold our system of justice accountable for determining the truth in such cases. And, with the other hand, we have to keep reaching out with the love of Christ- who on the cross “has destroyed… the dividing wall of hostility…”
I’m deeply grateful for the recent relationship our church has established with Antioch Baptist in N. Tulsa. . Antioch has a close relationship with the Crutcher family and hosted the funeral service for Terence. Our two churches- one, predominantly white; one, predominantly black- gathered together for the first time back in early June for a shared night of worship and prayer. Antioch hosted us. It’s hard to explain what all happened that night other than simply saying, “God showed up!” Soon afterward we set the date for our second night of worship on September 28th. In the meantime we had no idea of the events that would take place prior to that time. As God would have it, our second gathering together for worship and prayer took place just four days after the funeral for Mr. Crutcher. And, again, God showed up in a way that is hard to explain.
I believe that what we are experiencing is a key to racial reconciliation in our city. That is, racial reconciliation happens in relationship with one another. More to come…