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Hillsong UK leader apologises for not commenting on George Floyd death

by Tola Mbakwe

The lead pastor of Hillsong Church London has said he's sorry for not using last Sunday's church service to address the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.

During Hillsong UK's 11am online service on 31st May, which has since been removed from YouTube, Pastor Gary Clarke said: "It's a race issue, yes. For me, I don't live in the United States. For me to be railing as a pastor about something that's going on in another country, I'm not really sure that's going to help anyone."

The service, did however, address racism in general. 


In an Instagram post on Wednesday the pastor said he was "deeply sorry for the offence caused from the message" he shared on Sunday admitting he was "wrong" and it hurts him "profoundly" that he caused offence to many people including members of Hillsong. 

He added: "I care deeply about all people and abhor any form of racism or oppression, and my language ignored that fact just like in America, racism in many forms exists widely here in the UK."

The pastor said he believes that black lives matter and will seek to part of the solution to racism. 


A post shared by Hillsong UK (@hillsonglondon) on

Pastor Clarke apologised again in a YouTube live stream on Wednesday evening and hosted a conversation with black men from his church who shared their experiences with racism. 

 "To all the black people in our church… you were expecting something of me and I didn't bring what you were hoping I was going to bring. I really apologise to you for that," he said. 

His initial refusal to comment was criticised by Hillsong's global leader Brian Houston. He said: "I was disappointed to learn today that comments were made by one of our pastors in last weekend's UK online service which I'm sure he deeply regrets, have caused hurt and offence, and for that I am deeply sorry.

"Hillsong is opposed to racism, and we belive black lives matter,"

Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz addressed the topic head on last Sunday when he had a conversation with Bishop TD Jakes during online services. 

Prosecutors have filed a tougher charge against the police officer at the centre of the George Floyd case and charged three other officers.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was seen on video pressing his knee to Floyd's neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder.

The three other officers at the scene - Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao - were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

All four were fired last week.

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