How Should the Church Respond to the Zimmerman Verdict by Greg Surratt

Greg Surratt is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church, one of the earliest adopters of the multi-site model. Located in Mt. Pleasant, SC, Seacoast has been recognized by various media as an innovative and influential thought leader in future strategies for church growth and development. Greg is also a founding board member of the Association of Related Churches.


I’ve been watching with great interest the happenings surrounding the Zimmerman trial and verdict.

Here are five important things to remember as we respond:

1. No one won – A 17-year-old is dead, a 29-year-old is sentenced to a life of watching his back, one family grieves, both families are forever changed & our nation is more polarized than it was a year ago. Everybody loses in a situation like this.

2. Only two people really know the truth – You may think you do, but you don’t. Think about what I just said. Some people are spouting off as if they have an inside scoop. They don’t. I don’t. You don’t. None of us do. Only two people know and one of them is dead.

3. Our justice system worked – Six ordinary people devoted several weeks of their lives and came up with a unanimous verdict after hearing all the evidence. Our system is based on presumed innocence, which means the prosecution will always be at the disadvantage. I’m glad they are. Personally, I’d rather see an occasional guilty person walk rather than an innocent one go to prison. I’m not making a judgement on Mr. Zimmerman’s innocence or guilt. I didn’t sit thru a trial and hear all the facts. I’m just saying the system worked, whether I agree or disagree.

4. The Trayvon Martin family were incredibly gracious and respectful in their response. I cannot imagine their disappointment and pain. I could only hope to be as courageous if I was in their shoes.

5. God can bring good out of anything. His promises are true regardless of circumstances. He could use this to draw people to him who are looking for truth, open up conversations on race relationships or do any of a number of things that my mind cannot conceive. I know that he cares and is a loving impartial judge with all knowledge and wisdom. I know that he is at work on solutions before we even recognize that there are problems.

What if we all prayed for His kingdom to come and his will to be done? What if we all acted with humility rather than hubris? What if we saw the world through lenses of “we” rather than “us versus them”?

What if?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (The Gospel according to Matthew 5:9 TLV)


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Your Code of Conduct

In Words We Live By, Brian Burrell tells of an armed robber named Dennis Lee Curtis who was arrested in 1992 in Rapid City, South Dakota. Curtis apparently had scruples about his thievery. In his wallet the police found a sheet of paper on which was written the following code:

1. I will not kill anyone unless I have to.
2. I will take cash and food stamps—no checks.
3. I will rob only at night.
4. I will not wear a mask.
5. I will not rob mini-marts or 7-Eleven stores.
6. If I get chased by cops on foot, I will get away. If chased by vehicle, I will not put the lives of innocent civilians on the line.
7. I will rob only seven months out of the year.
8. I will enjoy robbing from the rich to give to the poor.

This thief had a sense of morality, but it was flawed. When he stood before the court, he was not judged by the standards he had set for himself but by the higher law of the state.

Likewise when we stand before God, we will not be judged by the code of morality we have written for ourselves but by God’s perfect law.

The worst customer service

The last thing I want to do is insult you. But it IS on the list…

Day two with NO service. First, I’m double billed. Now, I’m told that I didn’t pay my bill for unlimited talk. So the geniuses at Virgin Mobile suspended my service.

The customer service rep in India was one of the rudest people I’ve ever encountered. She said:”If you didn’t complain about your bill, none of this would have happened.” Who trained that nit-wit?

“Rosa’s Law” Introduced to Senate

Press Release from Senator Mikulski (11/17/09):


“Rosa’s Law” honors young girl whose brother said, “… what you call people is how you treat them.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski today introduced “Rosa’s Law,” a bill that will eliminate the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” from the federal law books. U.S. Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is the Republican sponsor of the bill.

Under Rosa’s Law, those terms would be replaced with “intellectual disability” and “individual with an intellectual disability” in federal education, health and labor law. The bill does not expand or diminish services, rights or educational opportunities. It simply makes the federal law language consistent with that used by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and the President of the United States, through his Committee on Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.

Rosa’s Law replicates a law recently adopted in Maryland. Senator Mikulski first heard about the state law from Rosa’s mother during a roundtable discussion about special education held in Edgewater, Maryland. Due to requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), each student who receives special education services at public schools has an individualized education program (IEP) that describes the student’s disability and the special education and services that child will receive. Rosa has an intellectual disability – Downs Syndrome – and so was designated as a student with “mental retardation” in her IEP, giving way to people at the school referring to Rosa as retarded. Senator Mikulski promised Rosa’s mother that if the bill became law in Maryland, she would take it to the floor of the United States Senate.

“This bill is driven by a passion for social justice and compassion for the human condition,” said Senator Mikulski, a senior member of the HELP Committee. “We’ve done a lot to come out of the dark ages of institutionalization and exclusion when it comes to people with intellectual disabilities. I urge my colleagues to join me to take a step further. The disability community deserves it. Rosa deserves it.”

“Mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” are terms commonly used in federal laws, including the Individual With Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

“We know now that words have meaning, sometimes far beyond what we intend,” added Senator Enzi. “Therefore, we must be very careful about the way we describe the people we see every day, including those with disabilities, or those who are undergoing treatment for a variety of health issues. Unfortunately, the federal government has not dropped this term from our laws and it still appears in the regulations and statutes that come before our legislative bodies and our courts. I am pleased to have this opportunity to join my colleague from Maryland, Senator Mikulski, in introducing Rosa’s law. I would like to thank her for her leadership and her commitment on this issue. Simply put, this legislation will make an important change in the words we use to refer to those with intellectual disabilities. It is a much needed change in the law that is fully deserving of our support.”

When Rosa’s Law was being considered by the Maryland General Assembly, Rosa’s 13-year-old brother, Nick, successfully testified on her behalf for a substitution of mentally retarded with intellectual disability. He explained, “Some people say they are just words, and it’s not going to make a difference if we just change the words. Some say we shouldn’t worry about the words, just the way we treat people. But when you think about it, what you call people is how you treat them! If we change the words, maybe it’ll be the start of a new attitude towards people with intellectual disabilities. They deserve it.”

“Senator Mikulski’s bill is a most welcome and necessary step in ending the pervasive discrimination against the 7 million people living with intellectual disabilities in this country,” stated Peter V. Berns, the Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of the U.S. “With federal adoption of the term ‘intellectual disability’ perhaps our society and others will begin to understand the legitimacy of the condition and treat those living with it in a more respectful fashion.”

The Arc is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 780 state and local chapters across the nation. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Rosa’s Law has garnered support from six additional cosponsors from both sides of the aisle, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Senator Lamar Alexander (R- Tenn.), Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), and Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), as well as more than 30 national organizations to date:

A copy of the Dear Colleague letter circulated by Senators Mikulski and Enzi is available here:

Senator Mikulski’s full floor statement is here:

Abortion Clinics Close

All five abortion clinics in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts have closed. NARAL Pro-Choice America blames the pro-life movement, which they say casts a negative light on abortion. Ann Fox, president of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said most of the stigma is within the medical community. “It’s not interesting, it’s not life-saving,” she said, “It’s not any of the things that doctors go into medicine for.”

Dr. Patty Giebink was an abortionist for Planned Parenthood® in the 1990s, but had a change of heart. She’s now a strong voice for life. “The people who are still doing abortions, many of them are lying and are in it for the money,” she said. “They don’t care about women.” Giebink noted the reasons people are pro-abortion are coming apart at the seams.

Planned Parenthood has announced the closing of many abortion clinics in the past several months, including six in El Paso, Texas, and another six in Indiana.

There were two nuns…

There were two nuns..

One of them was known as Sister Mathematical (SM),

And the other one was known as Sister Logical (SL).

It is getting dark and they are still far away from the convent.

SM:Have you noticed that a man has been following us for the past thirty-eight and a half minutes? I wonder what he wants.

SL: It’s logical. He wants to rape us.

SM: Oh, no! At this rate he will reach us in 15 minutes at the most! What can we do?

SL: The only logical thing to do of course is to walk faster.

SM: It’s not working.

SL: Of course it’s not working. The man did the only logical thing. He started to walk faster, too.

SM: So, what shall we do? At this rate he will reach us in one minute.

SL:The only logical thing we can do is split. You go that way and I’ll go this way. He cannot follow us both.

So the man decided to follow Sister Logical.

Sister Mathematical arrives at the convent and is worried about what has happened to Sister Logical.

Then Sister Logical arrives.

SM: Sister Logical! Thank God you are here! Tell me what happened!

SL: The only logical thing happened. The man couldn’t follow us both, so he followed me.

SM: Yes, yes ! But what happened then?

SL: The only logical thing happened. I started to run as fast as I could and he started to run as fast as he could.

SM: And?

SL: The only logical thing happened. He reached me.

SM: Oh, dear! What did you do?

SL: The only logical thing to do. I lifted my dress up.

SM: Oh, Sister! What did the man do?

SL: The only logical thing to do. He pulled down his pants.

SM: Oh, no! What happened then?

SL: Isn’t it logical, Sister? A nun with her dress up can run faster than a man with his pants down.

And for those of you who thought it would be dirty,

simply ask God to forgive you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:9

In HIS light,
Pastor George