Solemn Strikes: Resources for Remembering George Floyd

 June 9, 2020
Posted by Michael Woolf

Dear Friends and Members of Lake Street Church,

Today at 11AM central, the memorial service for George Floyd was held in Houston at Fountain of Praise Church. I want to give you a link to the services so that you can see for yourself the remarkable resilience and solidarity shown by not only George Floyd’s family, but the families of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Pamela Turner, Michael Brown, and Ahmaud Arbery. In the service, we got to hear about someone who was so much more than the way he died. Beloved as “Superman” by his brothers, George Floyd will be missed by those who knew him. I was particularly moved by Floyd’s niece, Brooklyn Williams, who put it simply: “America, it is time for a change.”

Acting on a suggestion from Director of Youth Programming, Amber Naylor, Lake Street Church of Evanston also added its mourning to the pain expressed by those gathered in Houston. At precisely 11AM this morning, I climbed into the belfry and rang our bell for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that a police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, murdering him. You can listen to a recording of our bell ringing in mourning here. I encourage you to listen to all of it, so that you can appreciate the full length of time that Floyd was subject to state-sanctioned violence. May it be a solemn meditation for you.

As Director of Children and Family Programs, Jilian Westerfield, pointed out, this act has an additional layer of meaning. The first person to ring our bell was Nathan Branch, who would later go on to found Second Baptist Church of Evanston, with whom we share a special bond and have covenanted with to fight racism. In addition, our bell has played a central role in our community, alerting people to emergencies. White supremacy and police violence are emergencies in our society, and I rang this bell not only in mourning, but to denote the peril that America finds itself in. This is an existential and spiritual emergency, and the central question of our time is how we will respond to it.
At Lake Street Church of Evanston, we are committed to lending our voice to the fight for justice currently unfolding in our nation. We are proud in this congregation to say, “Black Lives Matter,” not just as a slogan but as a holy utterance of worship. I will be continuing to find ways for us to be involved with anti racism efforts in our community and will be sending out an email later this week with details.
Rest in Power, George Floyd.
Blessings and Peace,
Rev. Michael Woolf