To the Athens community and especially our Black and Brown siblings:
Following in the steps of Jesus who, in love, offered healing and liberation to all he encountered, who wept over unrepentant cities, and who expressed anger at injustice and oppression, we are angered and grieved at the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor – among the latest Black and Brown individuals senselessly murdered.
We are concerned the police chief, mayor and city manager of Athens dispersed the remnants of the crowds protesting on Sunday with tear gas. Although we heard Mayor Girtz’s explanation of the process that led to this decision, we ask the mayor, commissioners, chief of police and city manager to show support of peaceful protests. We ask them to assure the safety of all involved in the upcoming rally on Saturday, June 6, as well as any other protests that may be forthcoming. We also ask for police officers to refrain from using force against those assembled in peaceful protest in response to the ongoing injustice in this city and nation.
Through our various missions and ministries, in partnership with groups like Athens Anti Discrimination Movement Group and Dignidad Inmigrante en Athens, we at Oconee Street UMC will continue to work for justice and healing in the Athens community. As a church of Jesus Christ, who came “not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many,” we commit ourselves to discipleship in the way of Jesus – to serve the needs of our Black and Brown siblings and to continue to repent of the sin of white supremacy as God requires of us.