July 25, 2022

Rev. Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., United Way of the Mid-South President and CEO, remarks on the death of Rev. Eason-Williams

A clergy couple, Rev. Marilynn and I did not know Rev. Autura Eason-Williams personally, but her death felt very personal; the senselessness of the circumstances, the pain wrapped up in a sense of powerlessness, the community’s collective, gut-wrenching grief.  It felt personal; the irony of who she was, what her ministry embraced and embodied, and how she died.  A fellow clergyperson. A female preacher. A former pastor. A model of the love and behaviors of Jesus.  God has repeatedly and poignantly demonstrated that throughout history and again last week – contrary to our human wishes – God does not often choose to intervene, intercede in or interdict human events.  Yet, we people of faith can.  And God expects us to do something.  I have no experience directly addressing violence.  But my former 33 years of pastoral ministry, and my seven years as President & CEO of United Way of the Mid-South have been about “driving the dreams” of under-resourced and under-served people and communities; in Rev. Autura’s powerful, simple words – so “people don’t have to steal.”  Her death ought to feel personal to all of us.  During my family’s visit to the National Holocaust Museum last week, we were again reminded of the words of a German Protestant pastor who was reticent to oppose the Nazi regime, until “then they came for me.”  Whatever is in our power, our sphere of influence, our financial means and our political will, my prayer is that we all honor Rev. Eason-Williams by our actions.

Published as a guest column in The Daily Memphian.