The Christian Reformed Church is calling for prayer after two black men were shot and killed by police officers in two separate incidents this week.

The CRC is also asking congregations to pray after five Dallas, Texas police officers were killed, and seven officers were wounded, on Thursday night.

In that situation, snipers opened fire on police after a peaceful protest, held to draw attention to the two black men who had been killed by police, was drawing to a close.

Alton Sterling, 32, was killed by police early Tuesday in a confrontation outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La. Meanwhile, Philando Castile, 37, was killed Wednesday night by Minnesota police after they stopped his vehicle for having a bad tail light.

"As we grieve the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, we proclaim firmly that their lives matter to God, and their deaths were a violation of justice. And we also grieve the tragic deaths of the Dallas police officers, who died protecting and serving the community with honor," said Colin Watson, the CRC’s director of ministries and administration.

"These tragedies do not force us to choose who is 'us' and who is 'them'; in the church, we are one community,” said Watson. “We weep together, we honor one another's perspectives, we listen and lament as one body. I believe we can talk about systemic racism and gun violence while also honoring the immense and indiscriminate grief that these incidents have caused. May our churches together proclaim the importance of this moment, and commit themselves to a more just world."

The CRC Office of Social Justice has created a summary and suggested prayer related to the incidents. The resource is intended for those who are struggling to know what to say, and how to say it. Especially if people would like to address the shootings in services this weekend, they can visit this site, which provides prayers, litanies and suggested worship materials.

"It is the call of the church to lament,” states Kate Kooyman, coordinator of Restorative Justice for the Office of Social Justice. “Our sanctuaries are the right places to grieve, to struggle, and to seek peace.”

“I hope that all our congregations say the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling this Sunday. I hope they pray for the families of the Dallas police officers who were killed. I hope, too, that we will be unafraid to consider the deep injustices that these killings expose, and to discern each of our roles in not just healing this broken system, but changing it as well. The dehumanizing of  ‘the other’ begins with each of us — we must work to see and honor the image of God in one another.”


I appreciate the call to prayer. I assume that the request to speak the names of the two black men who died and not the names of the five white police officers was an unintentional oversight. Maybe there will be a separate post listing their names. I hope it will also request prayers for the safety of all of our law enforcement and first responders. Thanks.

Report Abuse 

Hi Diane, 

I just saw this comment that you made and wanted to make sure to respond to it. We looked for the names of the officers at the time of publishing, but they were not yet released. We added the names of Brent, Patrick, Michael, Michael, and Lorne to our Do Justice post when we got back to our desks that Monday. You can find the Do Justice article with the updated names here:



Report Abuse 

We can't deny that problems exist, and it was good to see a recent report that helps us get some perspective on them.

A bad taillight may be an excuse for stopping someone, but my wife was pleased when she was stopped for a burned-out bulb recently that she didn't know about. Of course, sometimes such a stop leads to a discovery of other issues.

In every case, I believe that we need to get the facts before passing judgement, and not rely on rumours and perceptions. I recall something in the Heidelberg Catechism that relates to that. Also, I think the men and women in blue would like to be judged by their individual character and not by the color of their uniform, just as the members of the black community would like to be. (Thank you, MLK.)

Report Abuse 

Amen, Ken Van Dellen. It is so, so, so important that we are patient about things that happen so remotely before we started forming and expressing public conclusions, especially when the matter is so politically involved and contentious.

This article says "'"These tragedies do not force us to choose who is 'us' and who is 'them ...'" but then goes on to say "'... [the] deaths of [Philando Castile and Alton Sterling] were a violation of justice'". (Certain, the "us" are those who favor justice, right?). Frankly, we DO NOT KNOW at this point in time that deaths of Castile and/or Sterling were a "violation of justice." They might be, or not. We just don't know.

Is this just an irrelevant quibble? Not at all. We should all remember Michael Brown in Ferguson. Many, including such prominent persons as Pres Obama's advisor on such matters, Al Sharpton, jumped out ahead of the investigation and declared what the "facts" supposedly were. Sharpton (and so many others) were simply wrong, completely wrong (as confirmed by Eric Holder's DOJ at that). Yet, many anti-police protests, by Black Lives Matter and others, continue to chant about and recall the Michael Brown incident as if what Al Sharpton and so many others said was true. In response, those who oppose Black Lives Matter conclude that Black Lives Matter simply doesn't care what the facts are, that those who are protesting are not credible because they ignore and distort reality (the chanting and recalling of Michael Brown being Exhibit A).

And what does all of this create? Distrust, dissension, needlessly heightened and exaggerated adversarial postures. All because we can't be patient about factual investigations that are conducted a very long ways away from us.

This article links to OSJ's suggested prayer about these incidents. Sadly, that suggested prayer is preceded with a rendition of "facts" that could turn out to be as accurate as Sharpton's declaration about what happened in Ferguson involving Michael Brown (see at: OSJ has no special knowledge to know what happened, but is telling all its email blast recipients what did happen. Again, OSJ's rendition of facts could turn out to be correct, or not, or some of both. But no one wins, and everyone loses, when we tell others what we ourselves don't know (there is a word for that) about these kinds of rather incendiary events.

Report Abuse 

Interesting policies here at the CRCNA. If you bear false witness as an agency of the CRCNA, you are fine and your material will stand. However, if someone points that out and states that the CRCNA Office of Social Justice does not represent them, the comment will be deleted. Just another example in the long list of examples of disconnect between the bureaucracy of the denomination and many of the members. Keep alienating the members and then continue to wonder why ministry shares don't roll in.

Report Abuse 

Calling someone a liar because you disagree with them is not an acceptable comment.

Report Abuse 

I called no one a liar. I pointed out the bearing of false witness. The fact that criticism is deleted while the bearing of false witness is allowed is very telling. You have also now borne false witness against me by saying I called someone a liar. At least you are consistent.

Report Abuse