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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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La. Interchurch Conference director prays for “What we have left undone”

La. Interchurch Conference director prays for “What we have left undone”

Fr. Dan Krutz, executive director of Louisiana Interchurch Conference in Baton Rouge, wrote the following article after the shooting death of Alton Sterling and the Baton Rouge Police Officers. The title of his article is “What We Have Left Undone.” In it he prays for healing for our state and nation.

The Book of Common Prayer contains a service of the Holy Eucharist with a confession of sin that begins with these words: “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.”

Since the shooting of Alton Sterling who was shot by a Baton Rouge Police officer on July 5, and the deaths of three law enforcement officers on July 17, many of us have been grieving. We ask what can be done to stop the violence that plagues the nation and like a virus has now spread to Baton Rouge? What more could have been done to keep these acts of violence from occurring?

The confession of sin mentioned above seems to show that one way we fall short of what God desires of us is that we do not always “love our neighbors as ourselves.” Could this be what we have left undone in our relationships particularly with people of other races?

In a morning email from the Baton Rouge Business Report, the U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, is reported as meeting with law enforcement and community groups to begin the process of healing.

In a statement released by his office Governor John Bel Edwards is quoted as saying, “I commend the work of the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service in offering our elected, faithbased, business, and community leaders’ assistance in facilitating the difficult process of healing and community dialogue that has begun because of the recent tragedies.”

Additionally, Business Report states that the Department of Justice confirms the service, which works in communities where conflicts arises because of racial, gender identity, religious and other differences, has already been working on the ground in Baton Rouge.

In conversations with colleagues in the religious community and in stories in newspapers and the media, it’s apparent that the leadership of the civic, business and educational community are striving to help our community heal from the violence. The family, friends of Elton Sterling and people of the neighborhood and community celebrated his life while grieving his loss at services at Southern University the Friday before the shootings of the police officers on Sunday, July 17.

Recently there were memorial and funeral services for the slain officers, and Vice President Biden led a Memorial Service of Healing and Hope in Baton Rouge. What is next?

The work of the Department of Justice Community Relations will continue for a time, and initiatives involving additional training and education for law enforcement in Community Policing are to be carried out.

What we have left undone also involves that delicate and difficult issue of racism that continues to divide our communities not just in Louisiana but across America. Racism is elusive and almost invisible.

From my reading and experience racism is harder for white Americans to recognize and acknowledge than it is for people of color.

The spiritual toolbox our churches have to offer includes confession, forgiveness, repentance, and grace and others you will recognize.

The leadership and members of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference will need to build on the relationships we already share and witness to Christ in new ways so that eventually we can help in eradicating the elusive and seductive sin of racism.

May the love of God for each of us help us truly to love one another!