As religious leaders of different faiths and spiritual traditions, clergy of the Waterville-Winslow Interfaith Council agree as one voice that human life is a sacred gift endowed by our creator. Inherent in this blessed gift is the inalienable right to live free, in dignity, and without fear.

We mourn the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, while other officers either participated or stood silently nearby. We mourn the deaths of thousands of George Floyds, black persons named and unnamed, slain by those who have sworn to serve and protect, as well as those who act as vigilantes. These are not lynchings of a long-gone era but present realities and are as shocking as they are sinful.

While discouraged with the failure of moral leadership at the highest level of government, we are encouraged to witness moral leadership closer to home, and we thank local police Chiefs Joseph Massey of Waterville and Shawn O’Leary of Winslow for their statements against racism and police brutality, and their support for peaceful protests. We applaud police leadership everywhere who demand the highest standards of professionalism in their own departments.

We pray the formation of a new civil rights movement will continue, expand and gain power so one day soon structural change is realized. Peaceful protests honor the lives of the dead and work in positive ways to achieve reform, institutionally and in our hearts.

Working toward the deconstruction of systemic racism in law enforcement, the courts, prisons, education, housing, healthcare, finance, and faith-based institutions and traditions is the moral responsibility of all of us, and begins with prayerful assessment of our own individual beliefs, racial assumptions, and perhaps outright racism.

If all lives really matter, then the Black Lives Matter movement brings us closer to that goal.

Signed, the Waterville-Winslow Interfaith Council

The Rev. John Balicki, Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Waterville, and chair of Waterville-Winslow Interfaith Council
The Rev. Maureen Ausbrook, pastor, Starfish Village Ministry
The Rev. Thom Blackstone, pastor, Pleasant Street United Methodist Church, Waterville
The Rev. Mark D. Wilson, pastor, First Congregational UCC Waterville
The Rev. Frank Morin, Roman Catholic Diocese of Maine, retired pastor
The Rev. Kate Kozinski, Director of Mission and pastoral Care, Mount Saint Joseph
The Rev. Kate Smanik, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life, Colby College
The Rev. Sharon Sagat-Stover, Community United Methodist Church, North Anson
The Rev. Barbara S. Sagat-Stover, Metropolitan Community Church
The Rev. Kimberly Carol Shrader, pastor, Winslow Congregational Church
The Rev. Nancy Findlan, Interfaith Chaplain
Sister Judy Donovan, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph
Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, Waterville
Peter Harris, sensei, Treetop Zen Center
Karen Garcia, pastor, Unity United Methodist Church
Marilyn Pukkila, Vassalboro

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