MADISON — United Church of Christ clergy gathered at the First Congregational Church of Madison to denounce the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans and to speak out against systemic racism.
The UCC clergy represented churches in Madison and north Madison, Guilford and north Guilford, Northford and North Branford, Branford, East Haven, North Haven and Durham.
“We gather as this association of clergy in response to the killing of George Floyd and the centuries of systemic racism, injustice, pain and rage that have led to this present moment,” said the Rev. Sarah Vetter, minister of community life for the Madison parish.
The gathering of clergy came a day after a prayer vigil that drew hundreds of people and other rallies across the shoreline.
“We are here to pray for and recommission our calling as followers of Christ to work for the day when black and brown people can breathe freely and our society is restructured to reflect the humanity of all,” she said.
In the joint statement, which Vetter said was issued by 16 clergy, the church leaders said they mourned Floyd’s death “at the hands of police officers who showed callous disregard for his health in a situation where he posed no danger to anyone.” They also stated their “anguish” over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“In addition to the daily acts of racism, we are deeply saddened and disturbed by the growing awareness that communities of color have borne a disproportionate burden of the severe illness and death wrought by COVID19,” the statement said. “This reality is a reflection of deep inequality in our healthcare system and in our society.”
They then prayed, “As we hold your vision for this world, we recommit ourselves to the work of dismantling racism and insisting on justice, equality, dignity, and respect for every person.”
Vetter said her parish has been holding community conversations about race every month or two, when “people come together and educate ourselves … and grow in our awareness. We have to be more woke in our white community to what is going on.”
She said “we could not believe the number of people who came out” to the prayer vigil on Sunday evening on the lawn in front of the Madison church.
The parishes are members of the New Haven East Consociation of the United Church of Christ.