Dear LJCF Church Family,

At the beginning of this year God spoke to many believers around the world about this being a year of “living in focus”. At the time, the majority of the voices that I heard centered around the themes of becoming more focused on the things you might want for your life, focusing on your dreams, ambitions and perhaps knowing God more. What I do not remember hearing were many people prophesying about God perhaps giving us a laser clear focus on our own sin and the sins of our society that might be exposed in order that they be dealt with and healed.

After beginning to emerge from a prolonged and difficult lock-down, many of us were left with little physical, emotional or spiritual margin and a longing for normalcy. As you know, that hope vanished on Memorial day with the death of George Floyd in police custody. With this incident an unhealed wound was again uncovered.

As your pastor, the first thing I tend to do in situations like these, is listen, first to God and then to others. As a person who used to be more quick to speak, I have learned that I must first seek wisdom before I speak. This is especially true for when I am speaking for you as a congregation. I feel a great responsibility in representing you well and I take my position as a mouth piece for this body very seriously.

While I have spoken to many in our congregation, I made it a point to contact all of our African-American members as well as our local La Jolla AME Black congregation to hear from them. While I still have one or two people to speak to I can say that these have personally been some of the best and most rewarding conversations of my life. It’s an honor to have all of you call LJCF home and we are leaning on you at this time for counsel. Before I continue, I also want the other people of color in our church to know that I want you to also be part of this ongoing conversation, but it was important to me in this moment to speak to our Black congregants for understandable reasons.

Here is what I heard from your fellow African-American LJCF family members:

    • Pray: This was overwhelming and almost to a person the first thing out of their mouths, but Black culture has a history rooted in prayer and petition to God so I should have expected it. They stressed their core identity in different ways as children of God first.
    • Listen: Make sure that your door is open to listen without bias to all those that need to be heard. Done.
    • Be open to suggestions: Allow us to come up with a healing solution as a family.
    • If you see something say something: This goes for within our church culture or in the world at large.
    • They look like me: It’s hard to watch unjust things happen to people that look like me.
    • Stay informed: Keep these issues on the front burner. We are hoping for real change this time, not for things to go back to normal before we burst again.
    • Respect people: No matter what they look like or believe we need to respect people.
    • International recognition was important: Some said it made them feel heard beyond our borders.
    • They have a profound love and hope for our country: This was inspiring.

This is just a sampling of hours of conversation, but I wanted you as a church to know that your leadership is engaged, but in a way that might not look like what you are seeing from other churches, pastors or on Social Media.

Our Response:

Let me first say that there is no one I know within our church that was not personally sickened by the video that came out or willing to condemn the actions associated with it. I must also say that I/we are still not sure on what our active response will be as a church, but I will assure you that once it is settled upon it will be meaningful and sustained. 

What it will not be are a handful of financial gestures or social media posturing to relieve the felt pressure to act or to create a societal cover that checks a box so that we can move on without scorn from others as being inactive. Because of this, I am setting aside the month of June to pray and fast and seek the Lord as a community. During this time, I encourage you to seek God and after getting a confirmation from the Holy Spirit send suggestions in regard to what might be our congregational response to adam@ljcfemail.org

In July I will address the church on what we have heard as a body. Until then, I pray that you will all seek God with us for a cure for our own hearts, cities, nation and world. The sanctuary is open this week and next week Mon-Wed-Fri between 10am-2pm with worship at 11am each day. Please join us and we will return soon with a unified and congregational response that hopefully matches the moment and heals our land from a small little corner in La Jolla…

In Christ,

Pastor Adam