‘May the barriers that divide us crumble’

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church remembers George Floyd on the anniversary of his murder. 


One year ago, George Floyd was killed at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, setting off a series of protests across the country, including on the Island

On Tuesday, community members gathered at a remembrance held by St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. The Rev. Vincent (“Chip”) Seadale led the evening’s events, offering this hope: “May the barriers that divide us crumble.”

Several pastors from other churches were also present to show support: the Rev. Hyuk Seonwoo of the United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard (the author’s father), the Rev. Stephen Harding of Grace Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Cathlin Baker of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. 

The presentation was done through a Facebook livestream of a recording made and held by the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. In between segments, representatives of Episcopal churches all over America offered prayers. Imagery of protesters for police reform came into view during the presentation, displaying various slogans such as “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace,” accompanied by Christian hymns. 

One segment showed nine minutes and 29 seconds of Black individuals who were killed by police, violence inflicted by white people, or historic leaders and activists for Black rights who were assassinated. The deaths occurred between 1955 and 2021. 

During the presentation, a lengthy list of 75 names were shown to demonstrate the number of people who died from police conduct.

Others who died from white violence were also remembered, including Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955 for talking to a white woman, and Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins, who were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing conducted by the Ku Klux Klan in 1963, and Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel L. Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson, who were victims of the Charleston church shooting done by Dylann Roof in 2015. 

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fred Hampton, who were assassinated, were also remembered.

The segment’s length, nine minutes and 29 seconds, is the amount of time Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck, which ended Floyd’s life. 

Bishop Michael Curry, the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, led a sermon condemning racial injustice. He said that people must “pray with their lips, pray with their feet,” encouraging people to continue to fight against racial and social injustices. 

Floyd’s death has touched people in different ways. 

Sele Mekuria, who attended the Tabernacle event, said there has not been much change in the year since George Floyd was killed by Chauvin. “I was all by myself when I was watching as it was happening. I’m still in shock. Personally, I feel more vulnerable than I did before, while at the same time I’m on the Island, where I don’t believe such a thing happens,” said Mekuria. “This man, who would have had a fairly insignificant life, if he were alive and had not encountered this horrible death, has now become a symbol of what this country does to people like him.” Mekuria said that she feels that the people who need to change the most have hardened their stances more than before. 

“I think also the fact he was talking about his mother at the end, and everyone has a mother, I think that his death has given some mothers pause,” said Alice Markowitz, another attendee. “When are we going to move from thinking to action?” 

Seadale said he believes that this event was a chance to step toward hope again. “If there’s one nation in the world that has been blessed with such resources, even though there is much inequality, to be able to try and move in that direction, it’s really us here in the United States. For those of us who have been so richly blessed, we have an opportunity to give back and work for those things we know in our hearts are causing us to move toward real freedom, real liberation.”

Seadale told the Times his church’s motivation behind holding the event at the Tabernacle was to remember Floyd in a special way: “We wanted to do it in a special and reverent way deserving of George Floyd and what he now means to all of us.”

Seadale concluded the night with a prayer calling for equality under the law in the U.S., the healing of divisions, and the ending of hatred and suspicions so that “we may live in justice and peace, amen.” All attendees were invited to form a circle, holding their lit candles. All of them joined.


  1. Chip you might have mentioned that the only hope for us is Jesus Christ. That is what you pastorship is all about is it not?

    • Andrew– Jesus doesn’t live here anymore.
      Quit crutching on the poor guy, and realize we need to make our own decisions.

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