Words of encouragement from Rev. Karen Lewis Crawford, a Citadel alumna minister

Note: Rev. Karen Lewis Crawford, The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2004, became the first African American woman ordained in the South Carolina Wesleyan Church last fall.


This past week has been unlike any I have ever witnessed in American history. 

I witnessed the death of an African American brother whose last words were “I can’t breathe.” 

Breathing is one of those abilities that God has given to us that we have taken for granted—at times. It is beautiful to breathe fresh air or the smell of a beautiful gardenia. If we think about it for a minute, breathing is a fundamental right. 

As I watched the evening news, I saw people respond through protest that a man lost his life because his right to breathe was taken from him. I also watched my husband be dismayed, hurt, and angered by the sight of George Floyd’s death.

My husband, who now feels that something so basic, God-given, could be taken away from him because he is black. I felt a spiritual heaviness in my heart as I watched my husband grieve for a man he didn’t know, and I, as a wife and pastor, grieved for both men—the one who is alive and the one who is dead.

I told a friend, if the heaviness that I felt this week is anything like how Jesus felt on the cross, then I understand the burden of sin that He carried as He was hung high. Just as Jesus had died, he also rose. The resurrection and ascension of Christ are our reminders that there is hope. 

We may not see hope in the burning rubble of a convenient store, but there is still hope. We may not see hope in angry protests, but there is hope. We may not see hope in death, but there is. In Acts 1:9-10, as Jesus ascended into heaven, this is what occurred: “They (apostles) were looking intently up into the sky as he was going.” We must continue to look up to Christ. He is our glorious example of hope, love, and peace in these troubling times.

Rev. Karen Lewis Crawford, M.A.Ed., Citadel Graduate College Class of 2004

Karen Crawford at her ordination with Rev. Dr. Wayne Schmidt, General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church