A few weeks ago, New Heights and St. James partnered together to bless the police officers in our county. We are thankful for the family of God in this area and cherish getting to partner with another local church to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Pastor Curtiss: “Jim and I talk all the time about reconciliation. Recently, Jim had a thought about how we could create an environment where we could still deal with the issues at hand and reconciliation, but at the same time, not make the police officers feel as though they are not valuable in our community. His thought was for us to come together as a predominantly White church and predominantly African American church, in the spirit of unity, and pray for the police officers and give them a token of appreciation for their work.”
Jim: “I was inspired by Ricky Floyd who pastors a predominantly African American church in Frayser in Memphis. While at a retreat with him and our Memphis church planters, he told us that on the day the George Floyd murder broke on the news, he went and bought gifts for all the police officers in his precinct. He delivered each of them personally and prayed over each person.
When we came back and the race tensions were so high, one of the elders, Kevin Pope, suggested that we ought to do something for the police officers. I remembered what Ricky Floyd had done and thought, ‘We can do that here’. So, it started small and then got big quick. I thought it would be much better if I called Pastor Curtiss and asked him if he and his congregation would join New Heights in sending notes of encouragement to all the police officers in Washington County. At the time, I didn’t realize that there were about 750 officers in about 15 different police departments and agencies. It became quite an undertaking. Soon after, Wrights BBQ and Penguin Ed’s agreed to donate over $28,000 in gift certificates and discounts which was quick affirmation to me that God was in this. John Lawrence and his son emailed and persuaded all 15 departments to give out the names of all their officers so we could write personal notes to each. We had our staff and St. James staff sign the cards and write notes of encouragement.”
Pastor Curtiss: “Me and about five of my staff members went to drop off the notes. Of course with all the stuff going on, we found the police departments to have a perspective that Black people don’t like the police. This conversation came up in every single office we went to. Of course we said, ‘No, don’t paint with a broad brush. That’s not a true statement. However, we do not like bad police, as you should not like bad police’. They agreed with us, ‘Yes, of course, we definitely don’t like bad police’. I told them that we’re no different than that. We understand the importance of police and there is no hatred. We just don’t like bad police, like they don’t like bad police.
Once we got that out of the way, we started to have conversations about why we were there and how we wanted to come together in unity to bless and pray for the officers in our county. It was a very humbling experience for everybody. I think ultimately, they felt a sense of unity when it was done. It was really beautiful.
We have to look at the top level which is the image of God. If we look from God's perspective, all of us are made in his image by his workmanship, then we don’t have the right to destroy what we did not create. It’s very important to treat our brothers and sisters like family. We have to establish that first. We are family.”