The San-Diego Union Tribune: Pastors call for love, action after week of violence

 — Pastors across the county Sunday condemned a horrific week of violence in the U.S. that included the deaths of two black men shot by police and the slaying of five officers by a black gunman with sermons that extolled the power of love and called for action.

At Bayview Baptist Church in the community of Encanto, Pastor Terry Brooks unleashed a powerful hourlong sermon that acknowledged the anger and frustration of the black community, condemned the shooting of police in Dallas and urged church members to choose love in the face of devastating and unjust loss.

Stepping away from the pulpit and toward the crowd, he said he was angry.

“I appreciate the flags flown at (half-staff) for those innocent officers in Dallas who lost their lives, but why did we have to wait till there were officers to lower the flags,” he said to applause. “What about the guy who was selling CDs or the guy minding his own business, who supposedly had a taillight out? … Something needs to happen.”

Brooks compelled his congregation to love intentionally in the face of fear, hatred and racism. He said love is the only thing that can heal a country divided.

“Love says it doesn’t matter who you are. It’s the only thing that unites us,” he said. “Politics will never unite us, policy will never unite us … it has to be love. That’s what the world needs.”

Pastor Miles McPherson at Rock Church in Point Loma also addressed the tragic week. He told his congregation that he scrapped his intended sermon as news unfolded, first in Louisiana where Alton Sterling was killed by police, then in Minnesota where Philando Castile was also killed by police, and then in Dallas, where officers were gunned down by a sniper at a rally against police violence.

“To God, all these people are His people made in His image,” McPherson said. “He doesn’t see cops, black, white, Hispanic — we make those divisions. God made all people in his image, and it breaks His heart what we have done.”

McPherson then invited three uniformed San Diego police officers in attendance up on stage.

“These guys are part of our family, and we’re going to pray for them,” he said. “At no time, in my lifetime, has it been more dangerous to put on a uniform. … So we’re going to pray for their safety and pray that the small percentage of cops that don’t need to be cops, that God deal with them.”

He ended his sermon with a directive: Find someone who doesn’t look like you, share God’s love for them, and say “your life matters.”

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