My Platform Response to Ahmaud Arbery’s Death


Here are my comments regarding the Ahmaud Arbery shooting and subsequent video, shared from the platform of New Hope Church on May 10, 2020:

I have to take just a moment and acknowledge something that has dominated the headlines these recent days, and, if I may say, should have been dominating the headlines these recent weeks.

I want you to say this name with me right now wherever your are, in your space, in your room. I want you to say this name right now with me: Ahmaud Arbery.

Ahmaud Arbery.

I want you to let that name come off your lips.

Ahmaud Arbery.

New Hope Church is a Christ-centered community for all peoples. What that means is we are a church family that celebrates, welcomes, and advocates in Jesus’ name peoples from all ethnicities, cultures, and languages. We do this because we take our cues from the Word of God, and it is important to God to celebrate many tribes and many tongues. We see this in Revelation 7 and elsewhere. With that in mind, when we find out about tragedies–wickedness–like the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, we are compelled to stop, to grieve, to lament, and also to call it out, and to call God’s people to a special kind of action.

People ask me regularly, “Why do we talk about these kind of matters at New Hope Church?” Some think we talk about it too much. Sometimes I don’t think we talk about it nearly enough. Look at the video that has come out, and that should be just enough to give you a sense as to why these conversations, before Christ and before a watching world, really matter.

Understandably, people ask me, “Well, what is it I can do, Pastor? What is it we can do as a church family?” Those are terrific questions. Brothers . . . sisters, let me be really clear. We need to love our friends of color enough to learn of their fears, their traumas, and the injustices that they face day-in and day-out. We need to lament their pain, and our patterns that contribute to that pain. We need to live in solidarity and proximity to them, as humble neighbors, teachable, open, and intentional about engaging life together in community. We need to leverage our prayers, our voices, our thoughts, our words, our actions, so as to dismantle through the power of the Spirit of God the systems, the structures, the mores, and the ideas that sustain and perpetuate racial hatred and white supremacy. The Bible tells is in Amos 5:24, God’s heart is that “justice would roll down like a mighty water, and righteous actions like an ever-flowing stream.”

These are some of the things that we at New Hope Church can and must do in these pivotal moments that our society faces, but also, and perhaps more importantly, every single day of our lives.

See Pastor Matthew’s Lament for Ahmaud