Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Calls for Prayer and Personal Discernment
as Zimmerman Trial Verdict is Released
Earlier this evening, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman, a now 26-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, not guilty in the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Trayvon Martin was 17 years old when, walking to his father’s home through a residential area in Sanford, Florida on a rainy evening , he was shot in the heart after an altercation with Zimmerman. Wearing a hoodie and talking on his cell phone, having just purchased a package of Skittles and a can of iced tea, Martin became a symbol of young people of color across the United States who are often targeted by law enforcement, shop owners and other citizens as “suspicious.”
Approached and followed by Mr. Zimmerman for this reason, a physical fight ensued that would end in the death of a child, and come to symbolize our nation’s on-again/off-again struggle to accept and value its diverse citizenry.
As a community of largely LGBTI people of many religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, many of us know what it is like to be viewed with suspicion simply because of who we are. Many of us still live in parts of the world where our sexual orientations or gender identities are sufficient to endanger our lives.
Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s parents, appealed for peace in the wake of a verdict and said that they could finally see “the end of the tunnel.”
The real end of the tunnel for all of us will be on that day when we stand face to face with the Creator God who made us all and pronounced all life good. In the end, we will be invited to share one table together. The Gospel of Matthew says people will come to that table from East and West, North and South, meaning from many directions.
I know the members and friends of Metropolitan Community Churches may be coming from many directions with regard to this case and all the issues it has raised, from racially motivated animosity to the use of firearms. People around the globe suffer and struggle daily with the loss of children’s lives to violence — violence that is often times fueled by the failure to value the diversity of God’s creation.
Yesterday at the United Nations, another child targeted by violence, a 16 year old girl from Pakistan named Malala, spoke to the world saying that education is the key to a future of peace and good will for all of us. Shot because she was a girl wanting to go to school in a culture devaluing its female children, she said, “They thought that the bullet would silence us,” but what really happened was that “weakness and fear died…and courage was born.’
I urge all of us on this night when many of us may be reacting with shock, disbelief and anger and others with support for a legally rendered verdict, to really search our hearts and minds and spirits for the ways prejudice and fear have weakened our commitment to the prophetic vision of a world where lions lay down with lambs, and little children play safely over adder’s dens. I urge all of us as people of faith to recommit to the Biblical injunction against taking a life for any reason. The legal standard for “self defense” can never replace Scripture’s call to love others as God loves all of us.
Pray with me this night for the family of Trayvon Martin who, regardless of a verdict, lost a child to fear and violence. Pray for the day when all of us are at ease in the presence of difference and see only in each other’s faces a brother or sister in Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator
Metropolitan Community Churches
This statement prepared in conjunction with the Moderator’s Public Policy Team,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair. For more information or to arrange further comment
contact The Rev. Jim Merritt, Public Policy Team Communications, at