SJEREC RESPONSE TO THE PRESENT DANGER

Social Justice, Economic and Racial Equality Commission
Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, Inc.
Apostle Dr. James I. Clark, Jr., Director | Elder Van Adams, Chief of Staff
SJEREC RESPONSE TO THE PRESENT DANGER
We have just experienced, over the past two weeks, what I have been led to call a Jobsian moment. By this statement I’m referring to the murders of two of our black brothers by policeman, and the murder of eight policemen by two misguided black brothers. Just when we felt we had heard the worst, the cold blooded murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., the news channels shocked us with another photo of the murder of Philando Castile in Minnesota. Both murders were perpetrated by policemen. These deaths were two of the most recent of a long line of similar tragedies. The most recent names include Anthony Nunez, Pedro Villanueva, and Delrawn Small. The nature of these events leaves us with no alternative but to, based on the facts, conclude that black and Latino men, especially young black men, are marked for death simply because they are black.
The other part of this tragic scenario is that while good police officers were carrying out their responsibilities as upholders or enforcers of the law, they were slaughtered like animals, by two black former military men. Five cops in Dallas, TX.; and two cops and one sheriff’s deputy in Baton Rouge, LA. These events, which occurred in such rapid succession, had a paralytic effect on the nation. These officers of the law were innocent and were ruthlessly sought out and made to pay the ultimate sacrifice because of the injustices of others.
Now our nation is in mourning. We join our brothers and sisters across the nation and, with loud and gut-wrenching lamentations; cry out for justice on all fronts; Justice for our slain black and Latino brothers, and Justice for the officers of the law who were unjustly murdered. We lament and pray for the families who are agonizing over the loss of their loved ones, and we ask our God to comfort and sustain them during this awful time of pain and suffering. 
There is more we must do. Praying is not enough. We must pray and then act as though we believe our prayers are heard and are being answered. Jeremiah the great prophet of the Old Testament charges the people of God to “. . . seek the peace of the city. . . and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace, therefore shall ye have peace.” (Jeremiah 29:7). The PICO National Network also captured the action needed at this time in a recent call to action in response to this tragic ridden moment by calling all of its faith-based collaborators to “grieve, to pray, and to plan the way forward”. The first two actions are instinctive to the awful situations we are experiencing at this time. We grieve deeply when evil and violence are perpetrated upon our communities, our people. Those of us who are people of faith pray, or call for divine intervention to stop the evil and violence and to “send help from the sanctuary” in the words of King David. And we should certainly do this. It is the third action that shall occupy our attention for the rest of this statement.
Jeremiah, charged the captives of Babylon to “seek the peace of the city and pray unto the Lord for it”, because their own peace was contingent on the peace of the city they inhabited at the time. They were not to stand passively by and shrug their shoulders at the destruction of their “neighbors” because they were in captivity and their captors were deserving of retribution for the evil they had perpetrated on the people of God. Now, we can agree that ignoring the disruption on their oppressors would be a natural thing to do, but it would not be the appropriate thing to do for those who claimed Jehovah as their God. Thus, despite the circumstances we are facing, we too are called upon to embrace a different default in response to the present evils and injustices. 
First we are to grieve  as though those who were murdered were our own family members. Secondly, we are to pray that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit would bring justice to bear in every act of injustice, the murders on both sides, and the unfair and racist structures and systems that made or make these evils and injustices possible. Third and finally, in “seeking the peace of the city” or “planning the way forward”, we should, with God’s help, work to bring about the changes needed at this time. It is this last action that gave birth to the Social Justice Economic  and Racial Equality Commission of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
We exist to fulfill the aspect of the COOLJC Mission to “engage those problems that confront the communities we are called to serve”. Our national community is besieged by the evils of racism, exploitation of the poor, gross inequalities in the areas of education, economics or jobs, and livable wages, affordable housing, a corrupt criminal justice system, and outright hatred of black skinned and brown skinned people as expressed in police brutality. A spirit of lawlessness is raising its ugly head throughout the land. This is occurring at the highest levels of the political and business sections of our country and is even expressed in the disregard for the poor, the aged, and the disadvantaged.
We are calling our leaders: Apostles, Bishops, Presbyters and lay persons throughout COOLJC to join us in fulfilling the divine mandate “to engage those problems that are confronting the communities we have been called to serve.” We must do this by working together for Social Justice (social righteous, J. R. Foster) or fairness for all people. God expressed His concern and posture against injustice through the prophecy of the great prophet Isaiah, 
            Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings
            from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; (17) Learn to do well;
            seek judgment (i.e. justice) relieve the oppressed, judge the
            fatherless ( i.e. seek justice for), plead for the widow; (18) Come
            let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as
            scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like
            crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:16-17).
Doing justice, therefore is a divine mandate. Jeremiah underscores this in his prophecy against Judah,
            But your eyes and heart are only upon your dishonest gain, for
            shedding innocent blood and for practicing oppression and
            violence (Jeremiah 22:17).
Micah joins these two Major Prophets in condemning injustice,
            Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds upon
            their beds because it is in their power. They covet the fields
            and seize their houses and take them away; they oppress
            house-holder and house, people and their inheritance.
            Therefore thus saith the Lord: Behold against this family
            am I devising evil, from which you cannot remove your
            necks; and you shall not walk haughtily, for it is an evil
            time (Micah 2:1-5).
Thus we conclude, if God is against injustice and oppression, we are compelled to be against injustice and oppression too. This was our Lord’s mission as well as he stated so powerfully at the inauguration of his ministry. He took the scroll and at the Synagogue in Nazareth and stated unequivocally, reading Isaiah 61:1;
           The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed
            me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to
            heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives,         
            and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that
            are bruised (Luke 4:18).
Our appeal to the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ family is to join us as we work to achieve justice in our great country today. Let us collaborate with other faith-based groups to confront injustice wherever it raises its ugly head. God has given us power to bear witness not only in evangelism, but in being a transformative presence in the world to effect, through the unique gifts of the Holy Spirit, social righteousness as well. Our Lord stated that the church was to be “The salt of the earth and the Light of the World.” It is imperative that we use our giftedness to complement the efforts of others in bringing about social righteousness as well.
Apostle Dr. James I. Clark, Jr., Director

Elder Van Adams, Chief of Staff