Office of the President
To our treasured CSP community:
The last several months have marked an era, unlike anything we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. The pain, trauma, uncertainty, frustration, and anger that have stemmed from the death of George Floyd and the subsequent trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin have taken an immense toll on virtually everyone. It has affected those of us in St. Paul, Portland, and CSP students who live across the country.
As the jury now deliberates Mr. Chauvin’s fate, those raw emotions will continue to be with us into the future. Mr. Floyd’s death clearly underscored the chasm that remains in our society regarding racial relations, racism, and social disparities. It has also elevated difficult yet essential discussions about the role and function of law enforcement in our society.
What more can our CSP community, including students in St. Paul, Portland, and around the nation, do at this pivotal moment? I suggest that we be present and listen, encourage and pray.
Years ago a mentor told me, “don’t just do something, stand there.” Sometimes there is very little we can do. But we can always be. We can walk alongside and listen to the fear, the hurt, the worry, the heartache. We can invite our sisters and brothers to express their anger, pain, and frustration. And we can listen intently, carefully, and non-judgmentally to the cries of their hearts and the confoundment of their minds.
We can also encourage and pray. Recently a colleague expressed a sense of hopelessness when he said, “I feel like I am cursed.” The power of the CSP community comes from a God who loves us with an everlasting love and knows exactly how many strands of hair cover our heads. When it seems life has hit the bottom, our gracious God, who will never leave us nor forsake us, “then is all our strength and stay” (On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, v.3). Our God then works in and through us as a community to be His hands and feet to encourage one another.
Finally, we can pray. We pray “deliver us from evil” as our Lord taught us. We pray for justice in our society. We pray for the family and friends of George Floyd and Daunte Wright. We pray for our community, for safety, for protections for those who elevate their voices in peaceful protest, and for law enforcement officers tasked with protecting our citizens, our neighborhoods, and our freedom to speak against racial injustice and inequities of every sort.
We pray for everyone who has had their lives forever changed by recent events. We pray for reconciliation of hearts and for deeper understanding of injustice, inequity, and all issues that continue to divide our society. We pray that, by God’s mighty power, our sad divisions cease and that He would enable us to work hand in hand to foster a more just, safe, compassionate, and connected community.
The coming days will, no doubt, be extremely difficult. The potential for unrest following the Chauvin trial, combined with the officer-involved shooting death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, continues to place the Twin Cities at the epicenter of worldwide attention. It also puts the CSP community in a pivotal position to witness the faith that fills us and to be salt and light in a community that more than anything needs “the peace of Christ which far surpasses all human understanding” (Phil. 4:7).
I am grateful for the way our CSP community has worked together through these excruciating months, made even more challenging by the pandemic. As we face the uncertainty of the days ahead, with the Apostle Paul, we are certain that, “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Though there are no modern-day events that give us a roadmap to guide us through the times in which we live, we can find ultimate direction in Jesus who is “the way, and the truth and the life” (John 14:6) and who brings ultimate peace and offers it freely to all: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
May the Risen Christ’s Easter victory surround and sustain you,
Brian L. Friedrich