A Prayer of Lament

Dear students, staff, and faculty: my heart is heavy. I am grieved, angry, and deeply disappointed by events in a nation I devoted 32 years of my life defending.

Dear students, staff, and faculty
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Dear students, staff, and faculty:

My heart is heavy. I am grieved, angry, and deeply disappointed by events in a nation I devoted 32 years of my life defending. In the course of the last few weeks, we have seen multiple instances of racial intimidation and murder: false claims against Christian Cooper, and the tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently George Floyd.

As a white person, I cannot know the grief and anger of this in the same way as my black brothers and sisters, but as a follower of Jesus, I seek to weep with those who weep and do my part to build a more just future.

Returning to the City Saturday evening, my family and I unexpectedly found ourselves in the midst of protests underway in Brooklyn, our home. As I witnessed protestors expressing themselves peacefully and police responding respectfully, I was encouraged that the injustice remained the focus of the event. Unfortunately, that has not been the case everywhere. As a society, I know we have it in us to do better…to be better. And so I am not without hope.

I’ve seen reports of protestors who physically put themselves between store fronts and crowds bent on vandalism, and of police officers ensuring their peers were not using unnecessary force. These individuals served their cause well, and this is the model that will begin to heal wounds.

I am committed to leading this College as a place where all are treated with love and dignity. In this regard, we are not done, and I have updates to share with you soon. But as an immediate next step, I share this prayer with you and invite you to lament with me during a time of corporate prayer at the President’s Cabinet meeting tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM ET (video link in your emails). It will serve as a time to pray for our country and our community.

Father, today we come to you mourning, deeply distressed, and troubled. Across our City and throughout our nation, we are overwhelmed with sorrow as we witness unjust loss of life, injuries suffered, and the emotional toll wrought. Lord, we cry out on behalf of those who are dealing with the loss of loved ones, knowing they will carry that grief for the rest of their lives. We confess that we don’t understand all that is swirling around us and have difficulty seeing you in the midst of it. God, you know how much these circumstances wear on us and tempt us to give up rather than seek healing that seems so far out of our grasp. Lord, sustain us.

We confess that we do not always understand how our own thoughts and actions impact those around us. Lord, give us wisdom and compassion to first understand others and only then try to come together to heal brokenness, always pointing others toward you. Your justice is perfect, Lord, and we seek to be instruments of that justice. Lord, help us.

Yet even in the midst of this storm, Lord, we know that on the Cross, Jesus took on all our sorrow, our grief, and our sufferings. So as we mourn, we do so as a people who have great hope, a hope desperately needed today. We know that one day all our tears, anger, and grief will be overcome, so while we await that day, we pray that we remain faithful to the task for which you have called us. Lord, we praise you, even in this time.

Give us courage to be peacemakers, to confront injustice, to root out the evil in our own hearts and systems, and to seek the welfare of others. Lord, give us strength.

We ask all these things in Christ’s precious and holy name. Amen.

Yours in Service,

Tim Gibson

Edit 6.5.20. Letter updated to reflect President Gibson’s more precise sentiment that he is deeply disappointed by events in a nation I devoted 32 years of my life defending. Gibson stated, I have faith that Americans will address these underlying issues and change for the better. This has been a good reminder on the importance of precision of expression. I appreciate our community’s willingness to engage and seek clarification.

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