On the Death of Walter Wallace, Jr.

As followers of Jesus, we join in grief with the family of Walter Wallace Jr. and the community of West Philadelphia. It is hard to comprehend the loss of yet another Black man at the hands of the police. Walter Wallace Jr.’s life mattered. His death is not only a tragedy for his family and community, but it is a systemic failure at the core of our society. We must find ways to de-escalate these critical situations. A mental health crisis should end in treatment and empathy, not death. The frustration in West Philadelphia reflects a community in pain. But neither this tragedy nor its aftermath, should lead to violence—this is not the answer.

Our prayer is for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., that they would find comfort in the loving arms of Jesus even as they weep. We pray for the community of West Philadelphia, that they would find hope in the midst of tragedy. We pray for law enforcement that in crisis situations they would employ de-escalation techniques on behalf of the communities they serve. And we pray for the communities of faith that they would not just pray, but actively engage and work for shalom in our city. May God bestow grace and mercy on all of us.

Frank A. James III, DPhil, PhD
President and Professor of Historical Theology
Missio Seminary