NWC pastors ‘bear silent witness’ in Minneapolis march concluding at site of George Floyd’s death

Pastors from throughout the Northwest Conference joined together June 2 to “bear silent witness” in a Minneapolis march that concluded at the location where George Floyd was killed on May 25. A similar, second march along University Ave. in St. Paul followed. Nearly 40 Covenant pastors from the NWC participated in the two events—part of crowds that spanned several city blocks in each location.

The silent march was organized by African American ministers in the Twin Cities.

“It was a very calm and prayerful march,” said Kara Stromberg, NWC Associate Superintendent. “It was reverent with a sense of lament. We knew we were bearing witness to something significant.”

Stromberg said the crowd represented a cross-section of faith traditions including Jewish leaders and many evangelical and mainline leaders. Participants wore masks and practiced social distancing.

“The African American clergy led the march and everybody else fell in line behind, as if to say, ‘We have your backs,’” Stromberg said.

“It was an honor and privilege to participate in the Black-led clergy march,” said Dave Hugare, Lead Pastor of Zion Covenant Church in Ellsworth, WI. “If I can go to the cities for dinner, to eat, for entertainment, then as a follower of Jesus and a minister of the Gospel, I felt compelled to go and stand shoulder to shoulder with our Black sisters and brothers to speak out against the murder of George Floyd.”

When they reached the place where George Floyd died, the crowd knelt together and recited the Lord’s Prayer.

“It was a surreal and holy moment to kneel with so many brothers and sisters in that place and pray the Lord’s Prayer together,” said Joel Johnson, Minnehaha Academy Middle School Bible Teacher. “I thought, too, as we approached the memorial at 38th and Chicago that it felt like a kind of Golgatha—a place of death and pain but with the potential for resurrection and new life for our city and our country.”

Mary March, who serves as co-pastor of New City Covenant Church in Edina, MN, chairs the ECC’s Mosaic Commission, and serves as President of the Covenant Asian Pastors Association, says it was a solemn and peaceful event.

“It was a mix of mournful and hopeful,” March said. “These days have been heavy and hard. There is a lot of pain, but this was a beautiful moment. We were seeing people show up, saying, ‘Count me in. I’m done being quiet and still and inactive.’”

The video of George Floyd’s murder broke some people, March says.

“The question now is how do we use our brokenness and lead our pastors to do advocacy, influence power structures, and change the way we address systemic racial issues? That’s the work that needs to be done,” March explained.

“It was a reminder to show up and stand for justice and not be silent,” Stromberg said. “It was also an invitation for accountability going forward. Months and years from now, communities of color have every right to ask if white leaders still stand with them like we did that day.”

This article originally appeared in the Covenant Newswire. Edited with permission. Photos provided by Joel Johnson (Minnehaha Academy) and Tim Johnson (Bloomington Covenant Church).