George Floyd & Us!

Posted on June 1, 2020 by Julian Smith

When I first arrived in Brixton way back in ’92, ours was a largely white, working class congregation, and a lovely one at that. By ’95 and a lot of outreach drawing on my youth in racially mixed inner-city Sheffield, we were a largely black congregation, equally lovely and, to me as a young white chap, even more interesting: viva la difference and all that. And then I fell in love with a black woman, and so did my partner Andrew and a lot more of us in the congregation. Her name was Virginia and she was the warden of our neighbouring sheltered accommodation. We were never happier than when in her company, and she ministered to us quite as much as we to her, and then some. What times we had; I remember them still: special service and party after party, holding hands and sunshine, and falling asleep on returning home more content than I’ve felt before or since. And then of all of a sudden, she was ill with what the family were barred from telling me, and I couldn’t get to see her. I was told she’d be back soon when she felt better. The weeks passed by. And then having returned from a meal with my folks who were visiting at about 9:30pm, I received a call from her son: ‘Pastor, Mum is passing’. I drove with possibly too much alcohol in me and certainly too quickly to Virginia’s home, and with prayer book in hand parked-up outside Virginia’s. All her close family and friends were there, and her bedroom was full of her very nearest and dearest. She had died two minutes earlier. I held her still warm hand, told her how much I loved her, closed her eyes, commended her to Our Lord, kissed her on the forehead, and wept. I was then embraced and kissed by her children and we stayed outdoors on a balmy night until the early hours. Why do I remember all this now? Because that was the moment for me when for all there was still black and white, and blessedly so, I truly became a child of God and the Universe and truly committed to God’s justice and mercy and the Kingdom of Heaven. Rest in peace George Floyd: WE WILL REMEMBER YOU!