Minnehaha Academy Blog

A Letter from Rev. Dr. Donna Harris in the Wake of George Floyd's Death

Posted by Rebekah Peterson on Jun 1, 2020

Dear Minnehaha Community,

We are in the midst of a suffocating season of grief, pain, anger, and fear. We are reeling from the shock of witnessing the horrific death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of a police officer and are aggrieved by the massive chaos and rioting in its aftermath. Our hearts ache for loss of life, loss of dignity, loss of voice, loss of unity, and for many, loss of hope. Our cities are fractured, and neighborhoods are torn. As a mother of two African-American sons, Mr. Floyd’s agonizing cry for “Mama” still reverberates in my heart. It will cause an ache deep within my soul for a very long time. My prayer is that this horrible tragedy will strengthen our collective resolve at Minnehaha Academy to amend injustices, heal festering wounds, galvanize our communities toward positive action, and turn our eyes to God, our Savior and Refuge. 

Because of God’s reconciling grace, our lasting hope of healing and the cure for all hearts that are prone to wander, rests in the full embrace of our common humanity and selfless love for one another— a love rooted in and nourished by our love for God. Only then can meaningful action, demanding courage and persistence, take flight. 

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18

The mission of Minnehaha Academy is to provide high quality education integrating Christian faith and learning. Within a distinctively Christian context, the educational experience at Minnehaha develops both intellect and character. The why of our mission from Luke 2:52 is so that students grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and others. This is our sacred commitment to students and families. Minnehaha’s mission intersects with God’s reconciling work in the world. In partnership with parents, this work begins by demonstrating to each child that they are created in the image of God, possessing inherent honor and dignity as a unique individual. We aid them in seeing God’s beauty in them, their God-given potential and the many gifts and talents God has bestowed on them for His service. When this inherent honor and dignity permeates deeply within the soul and spirit of each child, we gain fertile soil at Minnehaha to nurture a love for God and our neighbors. From this place, all good work flows. Our prayer is that as students mature, that they will be inspired to not just set life goals, but to set their gaze on seeking their life purpose.  This is how the bright light of Minnehaha’s mission is cast and becomes an enduring guidepost in the lives of students. 

Now is a pivotal time for Minnehaha to chart our path forward as a community of faith. We must come together as brothers and sisters created in the image of God to discern how we collectively, passionately, and sacrificially approach the essential Kingdom work of establishing racial righteousness in our nation, thus becoming laudable agents of change. The heaviness of this moment in time is reminiscent of other uprisings in our nation’s distant past and more recent history that have called for justice and systemic change. It has become a deafening refrain that pleads for more ears to hear and hearts to listen. The time is now to take action.

We cannot distance ourselves from the battle. Our Christian identity does not provide immunity from the layers of race-related trauma, institutionalized racism, and its effects. Our work is not done! We cannot be silent as silence often signals consent. We must courageously call out our own prejudice, arrogance, and pride, take them to the feet of Jesus, then work diligently toward harmony and peace in the space we own.  We must engage students in critical conversations about complex problems that plague our country, including issues of racial discrimination, and trust that our guidance will  shape their values, resulting in positive change.  And we must continue to be the justice seekers, peacemakers, wound healers, and bridge builders that students witness every day. Crucial conversations and actions in the days, weeks, and months to come must reach beyond strategies to resolve peripheral symptoms, but must expose the ugliness of root causes. The work of racial reconciliation is a protracted and arduous journey where sharing the weight of the work, bearing the burden of the pain, and operationalizing our words into clear action, is the rallying cry. With unrelenting resolve through Christ, we can accomplish immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). With arms locked and love our weapon let us partner with God to heal the land. Together we rise! 

For those who are weary in this work of racial reconciliation and facing opposition in being a voice of hope, receive the comfort of Scripture. 

2 Corinthians 4: 8-10

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 

For those who walk in fear and whose hearts are faint, receive courage from Scripture.

Psalm 91: 1-11

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

A Prayer for Justice

Dear Lord,

Help us to follow your example, by looking out for those who each day feel that they are marginalized, who cannot find hope, who believe that they have little to offer, who are overcome by the challenges of poverty,

Help us to widen our horizons, to make space for the stranger, to watch out for those who feel invisible, to give time to the outsider, to talk to the person facing silence, to restore justice and value.

Give us the courage to undertake this, the determination to join with others in seeing grace in every human face, and the faith to embrace the opportunity in your name. Amen. 

(Amblecote Christian Centre, UK)

Blessings and peace,

Rev. Dr. Donna Harris

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