Dear New Yorkers,
New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Our city has always been a place where people from a wide diversity of backgrounds can co-exist peacefully. In seasons like these, where our peace is challenged, it is time for people of faith and good will to find ways to stand together in empathy and solidarity.
We sit at an impasse where tensions across multiple dividing lines seem to be coming to a head. Our current cultural climate often seeks to fan the flames of division by “othering” those who view the world differently.
As faith leaders, our hope and goal is to be a unified and unifying voice, not taking sides, not fanning flames of hate, and not making assumptions. Instead, we seek to bring messages of healing and hope. We want to stand with and speak up and pray for those being mistreated and harmed. We seek to help build bridges that bring about peace.
Recently, our city and our country have faced major hardships: gun violence, police officer suicides, and attempts to challenge the progress we have made with police community relations. We stand in solidarity with all of the individuals, families, and communities who were affected.
As faith leaders who represent people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, we write to encourage New Yorkers to move towards healing even in the midst of difficulty. We call for our communities to honor the dignity of those with whom we disagree. And, where we have violated, seek ways to atone and find ways to heal. We call for justice for all individuals and families who have been harmed. We call for the senseless gun violence in our communities to end.
Like you, we long for justice in the face of violence. We mourn with families who grieve. We affirm with gratitude the work of the many police officers who serve our communities with dignity. We celebrate the members of communities across New York City who make New York one of the best cities in the world.
We want to affirm the progress that has been made in our city when it comes to police-community relations. While we acknowledge that the work is not over, we want to celebrate those who have labored to manifest this progress. Our city is safer because of the progress made by the NYPD and our community leaders. We seek to maintain that safety even in the face of difficulty.
We, the cosigners of this letter, represent many perspectives. Therefore, we do not seek to take sides or state opinions. We do seek to be listening ears, bridge-builders across lines of division, and healers of broken dreams. This is our common responsibility to honor, and where violated, heal the dignity of all.
Rev. Dominique C. Atchison, M.Div., executive director, the Mayor’s Center for Faith and Community Partnerships
Pastor Gilford T. Monrose, director of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, 67th Precinct, Clergy Council “God Squad”
Rabbi Bob Kaplan, The Center for Community Leadership of Jewish Community Relations Council
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah
Pastor James Osei-Kofi, Bethesda Healing Center/GodSquad
Rev. Dr. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, Reach Out and Touch Ministries/Staten Island Council of Churches
Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, Staten Island Inter-Religious Leadership
Rev. Dr. William S. Shillady, United Methodist City Society
The Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, The Interfaith Center of New York.
Sr. Pastor Gwen Dingle, Pentecostal House of Prayer
Pastor James Osei-Kofi, Bethesda Healing Center
The Rev. Andrew Durbidge, Priest-in-Charge Episcopal Church of St Luke and St Matthew, Clinton Hill
Rev. Dr. Fred Lucas, Senior Pastor, Brooklyn Community Church
Rev. Alicia Bailey, Pastor, St. John AME Church
The Rev. Canon John E. Denaro, Rector, St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Brooklyn
Bishop Cecil G. Riley, Freedom Hall Church of God
Rev. Valerie A. Ross. M.Div., S.T.M., Senior Pastor, Nazarene Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC)
Rev. Dr. Hector Lozada, Las Maravillas del Exodo
Rev. Dr. Yan Chai, Senior Pastor, Faith Hope Love Assembly
Pastor Louis Straker, Reflections Church
Rev. Donna Baptiste, Clarendon Road Church
Minister Dawn Baxter, 69th Precinct Clergy Council
Pastor Rohan Wellington, Greater New York Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventists
Pastor Wayne Moore, Churches of God 7th Pastor’s Network
Rev. Karim Camara, Abundant Life Church
Dr. Reynold Howell, Greace Christian Church
Pastor Emmuel Onabanjo, Power and Authority Evangelical Ministry
Rabbi Eli Cohen, Crown Heights Jewish Community Center
Rev. Kim Osorio, Bronx Borough Supervisor, New York State Chaplain Task Force
Rev. Colin L. Campbell, United Community Baptist Church
Mark Meyer Appel, founder, The Bridge Multicultural Project
Pastor Zac Martin, pastor, Mission Recovery House of Worship
Peter B. Gudaitis, M. Div., New York Disaster Interfaith services
Rev. Donal Odom, Glover Baptist Church
Bishop Hugh Nelson, East Flatbush Church of God
Bishop Eric Garnes, Tabernacle of Praise
Rev. Alfred Cockfield, God’s Battalion of Prayer
Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, the United Methodist Church
Pastor Edward Richard Hinds, The Rugby Deliverance Tabernacle
Pastor Allen McGuire, Global Bible Ministries
Bishop Mervin Harding, Grace Deliverance Tabernacle
Pastor Charles Galbreath, Clarendon Road Church