trayvonjusticeIn response to the jury’s verdict in the case against George Zimmerman, faith leaders in the Florida Council of Churches have issued the following statement on July 15, 2013. Note: co-signers will be added as requested.

And the LORD said, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! Genesis 4:10

All things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18

So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:10

15 July 2013


Our thoughts and prayers go out to the parents, family and friends of Trayvon Martin upon the acquittal of George Zimmerman. The condolences from across the country are sincere and profound. In them, may the memory of Trayvon be honored by what happens outside the courtroom in peaceful streets and in the loving homes of a thoughtful nation.

This is the moment for a renewed conversation on our national legacy on race. On March 21, 2012, the Florida Council of Churches appealed for the matter to be put before the justice system and also insisted that:

Florida should be a place where a person of any color can walk in a neighborhood without fear of violence or being presumed a suspicious threat. Florida should be a place where the use of deadly force is rare and uncommon. Florida should also be a place where the misuse of deadly force is not tolerated.

Now that a jury has heard the evidence and rendered its verdict, the larger issues of insuring the freedom and safety of all Floridians need to be addressed with greater urgency. These systemic issues continue to engage the concern of a great many people.

The criminal courtroom is not the place to conduct public policy, but it does reflect the impact of actual policies upon the public. In that regard, the real experience of many minority families and the documented statistics of Florida’s criminal justice system show a long-standing, continual disadvantage against young African descent and Hispanic males. This is well characterized as the school to prison pipeline. It is the result of public policies that focus on punishing undesirable behavior rather than generating real opportunities in urban and rural areas for the under-privileged.

Florida’s future as a sustainable economy that attracts both tourism and new business depends on creating public policies that give opportunities for education and well-paying jobs to all of its citizens. As a society we must remove the suspicions and prejudice that linger on from the days of slavery and Jim Crow. Let us engage in those conversations that internalize in all of us the dignity and worth of every human being.


Bishop Chuck Leigh
   Apostolic Catholic Church 
  The Rev. Dr. Russell Meyer
   Executive Director
Bishop Edward Benoway
   Florida-Bahamas Synod ELCA
  The Rev. Dr. W. Harvey Jenkins, Jr.,
   Presbyterian Church (USA), Retired
+Leo Frade
   Bishop of Southeast Florida
  Dustin Lemke
   Southeastern Yearly Meeting (Quakers)
Bishop Steve Rosczewski
   Ecumenical Catholic Communion
   Diocese of Florida
  Juan Rodriguez
   Regional Minister
   Florida Disciples Regional Church 
Bishop Teresa E. Snorton
   Presiding Bishop, Florida Region
   Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  Rev. Graham Hart
   General Presbyter
   Peace River Presbytery
Ray Johnson
  Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Florida