“Good Friday does not get the final word. Easter does.”
April 15, 2022
Dear Friends in Christ in the Michigan Conference: It is the Friday of Holy Week. Death hangs over this day. Injustice marks this day. It is a day when we recall the death of Jesus at the hands of Roman authorities. Another death also hangs over this day, the death of Patrick Lyoya in Grand Rapids, shot by a police officer during a confrontation following a traffic stop. Lyoya died on April 4. Video of the shooting was released Wednesday, almost a year to the day that a police officer in Minnesota killed Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. This is heartbreaking, and our hearts break most of all for the family and loved ones of Patrick Lyoya, who was 26 and an immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We hear their cries and feel their tears. We offer them our prayers. We pray for the city of Grand Rapids as it comes to terms with this traumatic event. I am pleased that thus far, those who have gathered in the city to raise their voices in protest over this shooting have done so peacefully. May that continue. As people of faith, followers of Jesus, I hope we raise our voices in asking deep questions and in seeking a more profound justice. Policing is difficult and dangerous work. It is made more dangerous in a society with rising anxiety and anger and where weapons abound. The day after Patrick Lyoya was fatally shot, a police officer in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, was shot responding to an active shooter incident. We include those serving in law enforcement in our prayers. Policing is difficult and dangerous, and for it to genuinely contribute to public safety, its use of violence must be disciplined and restrained. When it is not, there must be accountability. In the past five years, more than 400 motorists who possessed neither gun nor knife and who were not being pursued for a violent crime, died in their interaction with law enforcement, according to The New York Times. We must do better. Death hangs over this day. We grieve, mourn and lament. Death, though, is not the end of the story. In a couple of days, we will celebrate that death is overcome by resurrection. The power of God’s love triumphs as Jesus is raised. We can do better. We can lean into the light. We can lean into life. We can build a more just and safer society, a more beloved community. Good Friday does not get the final word. Easter does.
David Alan Bard
Michigan Area Bishop
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.