Commissioner Willis Howell calls on Salvationists to protest bigotry, violence
By: Dan Childs
Commissioner Willis Howell has released a special message on YouTube (also seen above) addressing the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Southern territorial commander challenged Salvationists to raise their voices against bigotry and violence and to stand in steadfast support of those who are victims of discrimination.
Protests and civil unrest have erupted in Minneapolis and spread across the nation in the wake of Flood’s death Monday. Commissioner Howell noted that Floyd’s name, along with the names of Brionna Taylor, Ahmad Arbery, are being invoked by angry and heartbroken people who “are being forced to accept the awful reality of the very real risks that come with being black in a country where color isn’t supposed to be a strike against you … What is it about (cultural and ethnic differences) that somehow becomes an acceptable excuse for diminishing the worth and human dignity of an individual?”
The territorial commander said The Salvation Army is committed to the fight against social injustice and the violence that it triggers, but the weapons in the Army’s arsenal are its voice and its presence, and above all, the love of Christ.
“We are an Army that abhors violence,” he said. “We condemn injustice. We are also an Army that would do well to reacquaint ourselves with our very rich and storied history of not merely sitting back and shaking our heads in despair, wringing our hands at the injustice around us … No, we’re an Army that made a name for ourselves by the way rampant sin and unchecked injustice stirred us. It goaded us to Christian action.”
He said Salvationists must realize that the Army’s mission addresses not only the redemption of individuals but the culture as well. It’s not a small undertaking, but one with which the Army is nonetheless charged.
“What are we doing to intentionally take the Christ-light we possess into the dark places of discrimination, of bias, wrongness and injustice, in order to bring about redemption and behavior change? After all, even the dimmest candle dispels darkness,” Commissioner Howell said.
He added that Salvationists can start by adding their voices to the call for an end to the bigotry and violence that ended the lives of Floyd, Arbery, Taylor and countless others.
“From there,” he said. “let’s actually demonstrate the love of Jesus by defending, by standing with, those who are singled out and disparaged simply on the basis of their skin color, the country they come from and the accent they may have. Salvationists of the Southern Territory, can I count on you to do your part – you and your corps, for Jesus’ sake – to ensure that no more names are added to this sad list?”