Rev. Beam: Black lives matter to God. Black lives matter to us.

Dear Campbell Community:

On March 16, it was of great importance to send words of care and encouragement to our community as a global pandemic was settling in to our lives in a profound way. It has been necessary and important for us to come together to walk through this challenging time, and we have done so in ways that truly embody the spirit of community that so clearly defines who we are as Campbell University.

We have witnessed goodness and grace, strength and perseverance, and generosity and kindness. We have lived into Dr. Creed’s affirmations of social solidarity and community connectedness. In all of these ways, we have demonstrated the soul of the institution lives in you — our students, faculty, and staff.

Today, it is of great importance to send words of care and comfort as the groans of our communities breathe loudly and painfully. Grief, anger, and frustration are real responses to the death of George Floyd. Yet, as we grieve the death of Mr. Floyd, we also remember Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and a painful list of men and women over the course of many years who have lost their lives or have been treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.

The truth of our faith is that we are created in the image of God and we bear the infinite goodness and dignity of God within each of us. In us, we carry all of who we are and all of who we are becoming.

We are children of God, all of us. This truth moves us to say with humility and strength, black lives matter. Black lives matter to God, and our faith in God compels us to live out how black lives matter to us.

Sunday was the day of Pentecost, where we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit. Read these words from Romans 5:3-5:

We. . . boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. What a gift!  We cannot love without being changed. It is about one human holding the heart of another. Love is about being willing to have our heart become deeper as we move beyond the surface layers of our assumptions and prejudices to truly see and receive what — and who — is before us. It is being willing to have our heart continually shattered and remade as we take in not only the beauty of the world but also the pain and struggle of it, to see and bear witness to what our brothers and sisters in minority communities have experienced at the hands of racism and discrimination.

The events of the past days and weeks bring layers of complexity and levels of discomfort. I acknowledge my own sense of discomfort as I watch and listen to all of the voices speaking.

May we find the courage and strength to sit in our discomfort. May our discomfort move us to listen carefully, act graciously, and love deeply. In community, we have the opportunity to work together in careful and honest conversation, and learn how we might move in helpful ways to bring about positive change.

May we continue to reflect the Kingdom of God in how we, as community, seek to live lives committed to justice and peace. The soul of our institution holds a beautiful sense of diversity. May the Holy Spirit guide our steps with love and grace.

Rev. Faithe Beam
Associate Vice President for Spiritual Life