A Letter In Solidarity With the Sandra Bland Vigil Participants in Waller County
17 August 2015
Throughout history threats and acts of intimidation have been used to oppose those who call for justice in the lives of people who are marginalized, imprisoned, oppressed, or losing their lives. As people of faith, we gather at the foot of the cross of Jesus to resist this oppression. We join our voices to the voices of all who seek a fair and transparent investigation of the death of Sandra Bland. We say, with them, “Black Lives Matter.”
Recently, people of every faith, and those with no faith, have gathered in front of the Waller County Jail in Hempstead, Texas to proclaim that “Sandra Bland’s life mattered. It still matters. Sandy still speaks.” Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner, a United Methodist pastor, has been a faithful, prayerful, steady presence in front of the jail, along with the other conscientious participants.
On Sunday, August 9, the crowd was larger than the daily gathering. Rather than respond graciously to those exercising their constitutional rights to petition the government and gather for prayer, Waller County Sheriff Smith demeaned the protestors. He later said to Rev. Bonner, “Why don’t you go back to the church of Satan that you run?” Since then, we understand the sheriff’s office has taken other actions to intimidate the protestors standing in vigil for Sandra Bland.
Rev. Bonner and those with her are a living witness to what it means to be the church. They are working to tear down the walls of classism, sexism, and racism while building bridges of unconditional love. Their presence in these vigils embodies what it means to be Christ in the world.
We stand in solidarity with Rev. Bonner, and all who gather outside the Waller County Jail to protest and pray peacefully. They are bravely doing Christ’s work. Their peaceful actions demonstrate how Christians respond to injustice with love. We join with them in committing ourselves and our prayers to the important work of building bridges to those divided from us by reasons of hatred, fear, racism, injustice, and oppression.
Finally, and most importantly, we remember and proclaim that Sandra Bland was a beloved child of God. Her life mattered to her family. It mattered to her friends. It mattered to God, just as her life, and all black lives, matter to us. We, therefore, urge the Sheriff’s Department to act with restraint, compassion, and kindness toward all who are gathered outside the Waller County Jail to bear witness to Sandra Bland’s life.
Bishop Michael Rinehart
Please email the synod office with the following information, if you’d like to be added to this letter of support: Name, City, State, Faith (if applicable)
Rev. Sandra Barnes, Slidell, LA, ELCA
Rev. Jennifer E. Boyd, Danbury, CT, ELCA
Rev. Margaret C. Casper, Galena, IL, ELCA
Rev. Andrew V. Chavanak, Falls City, NE, ELCA
Rev. Michael Coffey, Austin, TX, ELCA
Rev. Kathleen Davies, PCUSA
Fredericka DeBerry, Brenham, TX
Diana Edis, Columbia, SC, Lutheran
Paula Fox, Bryan, TX
Rev. Brad Fuerst, Houston, TX, ELCA
Rev. Kristin Galle, Spring, TX, UCC
Rev. Lura Groen, Houston, TX, ELCA
Amy Gulliksen, Carrollton, TX, ELCA
Megan Hansen, Conroe, TX, PC(USA) Ruling Elder
Rev. Barbara Harrison Condon, Idaho Falls, ID, ELCA
Beth Hartfiel, Houston, TX, ELCA
Rev. Peder Hinderlie, Milnor, ND, ELCA
Rev. Nancy Jaster, Woodhull, IL, ELCA
Rev. Sandra Jones, Aurora, IL
Rev. Ann Koopmann, TX, ELCA
Rev. Jennifer Shimota Krushas, High Point, NC, ELCA
Rev. Dr. Duane Larson, Princeton, IA, ELCA
Rev. Michael Lawrence-Weden, San Antonio, TX
Rev. Paul Lubold, Pittburgh, PA, ELCA
Rev. Blair Lundborg, Conroe, TX, ELCA
Andrea Martinez, Houston, TX
Rebecca McDonald, Cypress, TX, ELCA
Rev. Br. Chris Markert, Galveston, TX, ELCA
Rev. Cora Lee Meier, Mesa, AZ, ELCA
Rev. Kerry Nelson, Houston, TX, ELCA
Rev. Diane M. Olson, Milwaukee, WI, ELCA
Rev. Priscilla Paris-Austi, Seattle, WA, ELCA
Rev. Charles Parnell, Brenham, TX, ELCA
Br. Michael Patterson, OLF, Cypress, TX, ELCA
Rev. Mindy Roll, College Station, TX, ELCA
Susan Ruch, The Woodlands, TX
Rev. Karl Runser, Lock Haven, PA, ELCA
Rebecca Shields, Houston, TX
Laura Sims, Arlington, TX, ELCA
Joanna Thornton, Houston, TX, ELCA
Rev. Kim Truebenbach, Giltersville, PA, ELCA
Donna Vass, Houston, TX, ELCA
Joe Watt, Beaumont, TX
Rev. Donna M. Wright, Cheltenham, PA, ELCA
Rev. Edward Wunderlich, Waller, TX, ELCA
USA: Black August, a month of political prisoner activism and commemoration, can help remind us of the nation’s exponentially expanding racist prison system: here.
The Prophetic Preaching of Sandra Bland. By Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner 09-16-2015. See more here.