Bishops respond to verdict in Ahmaud Arbery case

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop Gregory Rickel, and bishops in Georgia respond to verdict in Ahmaud Arbery case from Georgia.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in choir dress

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry responds to verdict in Ahmaud Arbery case

While nothing will return Ahmaud Arbery to his loved ones, our justice system has held three men accountable for hunting down and killing a Black man who did nothing but go for a run in a predominately white neighborhood, and I give thanks for this outcome. My prayers are with Arbery’s family as they continue to grieve his loss.

Even so, our work as followers of Jesus, as a church, and as a nation, continues; we cannot rest until these modern embodiments of terror against any human child of God are no more. We must labor on for racial healing and reconciliation in each of our hearts—and in our society. We must reimagine and advocate against systems, laws, and policies that encourage vigilantism and diminish human life, because all people should be treated with the dignity, love, and respect that is due children of God.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry responds to verdict in Ahmaud Arbery case (English and Español). The Most Rev. Michael Curry is the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Greg Rickel wearing cope and mitre

Bishop Greg Rickel statement on the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery case

Today, the jury in the Ahmad Arbery trial has returned its verdict and found the men responsible for Arbery’s death guilty on nearly all counts. While this verdict does not, as our Presiding Bishop has said, bring Ahmaud Arbery back to his family and loved ones, it does provide a measure of justice from a system that has too often denied justice to our BIPOC siblings.

I echo the prayers and pleas of our Presiding Bishop and the Episcopal and Lutheran bishops of Georgia in their statements following the verdict [below]. I commend them to you. The joint statement from the Georgia bishops is especially good and also provides some very good resources, including a link to the resource library of the Center for Racial Healing.

There is much work still to be done in reforming our justice system, and quite frankly much of that work is inside ourselves, for as many of you have reminded me over this past week, we humans make up, implement, and oversee this system. Much work remains to be done in each of our hearts to dismantle our own racism and bring about healing and reconciliation. When this happens I do believe any unbalanced and/or unjust system can and will change. I most definitely include myself as one that continues to need work and most likely will the remainder of my life. I ask you to pray for everyone involved in this case, their families, and for the repose of the soul of Ahmaud Arbery.

Bishop Rickel’s Statement on the Verdict in the Ahmad Arbery Case. The Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel is the Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia.

Ahmaud Arbery shown with his murderers. Photos courtesy of Ahmaud family and Glynn County Sheriff's Office

Episcopal and Lutheran bishops in Georgia respond to the verdict in the McMichaels-Bryan trial

The jury charged with handing down a verdict in the case of three men accused of murder for their roles in the death of Ahmaud Arbery issued its decision today finding Travis McMichael guilty of malice murder and other charges, Gregory McMichael guilty of felony murder and other charges, and Roddie Bryan guilty of felony murder and other charges. We give thanks for the dedicated work of the judge and jurors who served in a charged atmosphere with intense public scrutiny. Any verdict arrives too late to offer true justice in this case. Ahmaud Arbery is dead, and the court cannot return him to his family. Nonetheless, this moment is an important one.

We prayed for the court to bring earthly justice and the court has acted. But it took a public outcry and the release of video of the incident to force the system into action. The three men who are now convicted of crimes were initially shielded from facing their accusers in court. Until we can bring equity to the system that initially protected them, the rest of us will not have done what we can to create the just society for which we long. Our country has not dealt with the racism built into the system at its founding and perpetuated until this day. Living into our faith means addressing directly any sin we see in our lives and in our communities. Divisions around the human-made concept of race are an offense against our faith which teaches that all people are made in God’s image and likeness. Jesus taught us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Through his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that all are our neighbors. Any racial divide breaks the heart of God.

One bright spot of hope we have seen emerge following Ahmaud’s tragic death has been the interfaith group of clergy in Glynn County. Their clarion call for justice after the video surfaced was critical in getting attention to this case. They followed this call by engaging in candid conversations that drew them together even as other forces could have deepened divisions. Participants included clergy from all five Episcopal Churches in the county and those of many other denominations, as well as leaders of Jewish and Muslim congregations. News stories have often quoted the clergy who were consistently engaged, offering a non-anxious presence on the courthouse grounds. They have witnessed to the dream of God: all of us becoming beloved community, not divided by ethnicity, but united in our common humanity. We know that long after the cameras and reporters are gone, the clergy in Glynn County will still be working together toward that dream.

We hope not just for good to overcome evil, but for God to redeem even the worst tragedies and the gravest injustices. While the court has acted, the work of healing and justice remains. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia offers the following resources: ​​Resources for Racial Healing and Justice.

The Southern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America offers resources: Racial Justice.

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s resources can be found at the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing: Our Virtual Resource Library.

It does not take an evil person to do an evil act. Murder is evil. Ahmaud’s killing was evil. But we need to guard against demonizing anyone or denying their basic humanity. The accused have been convicted. They will serve their sentences and need our prayers that they may be awakened to repentance. In this, as with all of us, we pray that God will bring all who are guilty to repentance and amendment of life and give us all hope for the future. In that spirit, we offer this prayer:

Eternal God, we give thanks for the judge and jurors charged with bringing earthly justice in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Be with the Arbery family and all in the Brunswick and Glynn County Community as they seek further healing. Be with Gregory, Travis, and Roddie and their families as they serve their sentences and work toward their own repentance. Be with all of us as we seek repentance and healing for ourselves, one another, and our communities. Give us all the grace to hunger and thirst for your righteousness that we may work together to become the beloved community to which you call us. This we ask for the sake of your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.

May God grant us grace to see the healing needed in our lives, our families, and our communities.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev. Frank S. Logue, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia
The Rt. Rev. Rob C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland, Bishop of the Southeastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Episcopal and Lutheran bishops in Georgia respond to the verdict in the McMichaels-Bryan trial

Early morning mist in the Memorial Garden at Church of the Redeemer

Church of the Redeemer

Church of the Redeemer: Worshiping God, living in community, and reaching out to the world around us. We are an Episcopal Church serving north King County and south Snohomish County, Washington. As you travel your road, go with friends walking the way of Jesus at Redeemer.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. And we managed to hide a large building on the side of a hill that is not easily seen from the street.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.