After Review, St. John’s Episcopal Church Continues Relationship with Childers Construction

After Review, St. John’s Episcopal Church Continues Relationship with Childers Construction

St. John Episcopal Church, who hired Childers Construction as the lead contractor for the almost-completed “For All the Saints” capital campaign renovations, sent out a letter on July 30 addressing the recent controversy related to Sam Childers.

Rev. David C. Killeen wrote that after hearing about the controversy, St. John’s assembled a group of church leaders, African American members, clergy and staff and met to discuss what action they would take. According to Rev. Killeen, the group prayed and quickly reached consensus, concluding that Mr. Childers’ actions with regards to the Bob Marley costume was inappropriate and accepted Mr. Childers’ apology.

Rev. Killeen added, “We see no evidence that this was a part of a pattern of behavior, nor have we encountered anything like it in our dealings with Childers Construction…..Childers Construction has been an exemplary partner for nearly three years during this renovations project.”

Rev. Killeen stated that Childers Construction will complete the project.

Florida State University, in a letter from President John Thrasher, severed ties with Childers Construction due to the incident by cancelling the company’s Continuing Services Agreement with FSU. Thrasher stated that FSU will honor contracts currently in place.

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The Rev. David C. Killeen Letter

Dear Friends in Christ,

You may be aware of this recent story in the Tallahassee Democrat about Sam Childers of Childers Construction.

You may also know this situation touches St. John’s Episcopal Church in multiple ways. One of the most prominent of those is that Childers Construction has been the lead contractor for our almost-completed “For All the Saints” capital campaign renovations. 

Initially, that would appear to make this issue complicated for St. John’s. That is, until we remember the foundations of our faith and of this church.
We vow to love and serve Christ and our neighbors in Tallahassee and around the world. One way we do that is by renouncing racism in all of its forms. Blackface is clearly inappropriate, even if part of a Halloween costume created with innocent intent.

Another way we fulfill our mission is through one of our stated five core values — compassion. Mr. Childers has acknowledged his mistake and sincerely asked for forgiveness. We see no evidence that this was a part of a pattern of behavior, nor have we encountered anything like it in our dealings with Childers Construction. Our own Christian values demand we accept this apology.

We also have a long-standing commitment to social justice at St. John’s. 
Earlier this year, St. John’s followed Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Episcopal Church’s lead to enlist all Episcopalians in the work of deepening conversation about race. Last week we announced the co-chairs of our “Becoming Beloved Community” discernment committee that will guide our church in a six-month examination about racism and racial healing. Those dedicated parishioners, Marcy Muldrow Sanders and Jim Messer, are already hard at work forming their committee and making plans for the conversations they will lead about our faith, values and how St. John’s can be part of the solution.

When this issue with Sam Childers arose, St. John’s assembled a group — of church leaders, African American members, clergy and staff — and met to discuss what action we would take. The group opened with prayer and quickly reached consensus: We find Mr. Childers’ actions with regards to the costume inappropriate and we accept his request for forgiveness.

Childers Construction has been an exemplary partner for nearly three years during this renovations project. St. John’s will see this relationship to its conclusion. At the same time our physical church is fully refreshed, we will be diving deep into the vital issue of racial awareness and social justice, refreshing our perspective on inclusivity and compassion. And we will do it all prayerfully and reverently, guided by our core values and the Holy Spirit.

Please feel free to reach out to me or another member of our St. John’s clergy if we can provide further pastoral assistance.
Faithfully,  Fr. Dave

The Rev. David C. Killeen

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