Dear Bayside,

I am writing to all of you who are part of our local and global church. You have heard me say many times, the church should look more like heaven than the divided states of America. 

We have a diverse church family. That is by design – God’s design! That diversity is a blessing! That diversity can be challenging! And that diversity is a responsibility! The Bible is crystal clear that we are to ‘weep with those who weep’.

I have had the privilege to listen to, interview, and have conversations with world-class African American Christians around the country, in our church, and on our staff. Every single one has given me (and all of us) the same message: ‘We are hurting— please stand with us— please speak out!’

In my opinion, when the church is silent the country suffers. Our nation has been hit by wave after wave of tragic and deeply disturbing events— especially those reflecting a disregard for Black lives in the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. As a diverse pastoral staff, we simply are unable to let these incidents go by in silence.  

Therefore, we added an extra sermon which included a challenge from me and the opportunity to hear the voices of African American Christian leaders on our staff and from around the country.

This message is not about politics (there are a lot of good public servants). This is not about police (there are a lot of men and women placing themselves in harm’s way to keep people safe). This message is about listening to the pain of injustice. It is a call to create a church where racism and prejudice are identified and addressed. It is about breaking barriers, encouraging important conversations, and making God-honoring change happen. It is about making Bayside a place where the Image of God in each person is acknowledged, honored, and respected. It is a call to live out Micah 6:8, “ . . . And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Sincerely, 

Pastor Ray