Knee on the neck of black America

It would be inappropriate not to recognize the tragic incident in Minneapolis this past week when police officers killed Mr George Floyd, a 46 year old African American. Yet another example of police killing an African American in the United States.

The image of a white police officer with a knee on an African American citizens neck was an image of  America at its worst.  

This is a picture of the history of America’s attitude and action toward people of color fed over a 400 year history:  They need to know their place; they are to be held down; ignored;  and treated in the manner as prescribed by a white dude:  Whether it be a police Officer or someone else.

This prejudicial situation reminds me of the lyrics from a song in the old Rodgers & Hammerstein musical,  “South Pacific” 

The lyrics go something like this:

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. You’ve got to be taught from year to year.

You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

We humans are NOT born to treat others inhumanely.  We are taught to discriminate with hate and fear.  We are taught to assume inequality, and to hate and fear others supposedly unlike ‘me’.

Likewise,  “You’ve got to be taught” to love and respect others.  It doesn’t just happen. There is a process to learn how to treat others with respect. “You’ve got to be carefully taught”.

Anger and violence can be anticipated to flow from these tragic circumstances.  And in America, it seems that without the public expression of anger nothing will move.  

Otherwise it will be addressed by a Committee, Commission, a Board that will sidestep the inequity of law and justice and justify the current rule and order. And African Americans will continue to be killed by our police officers with impunity.

The police are key to the cultural transformation that needs to take place.  The Police are on the front line where justice is formidably tested. They have the power and opportunity to publicly display the equality and inequality that exists about us.

There is a simple antidote to our social dis –  ease.

We need to address and act toward each other as human equals.  

In all situations.  It is difficult. It will be difficult.  But practice of the right behavior creates the right habits, and the right thoughts of respect and appreciation and the love for each other.

“You’ve got to be carefully taught.”

Our condolences to the family of Mr George Floyd.  Our prayers are with you.  And our prayers are with the United States of America.  The land we all love and are willing to live and die for.

If I might quote St Paul:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

The grace and peace and love of Christ be with you all. 
Pastor John Goldstein


Grace Church has established a ‘Musician in Residence’ position.  The goal is to encourage young local, accomplished musicians to develop their musical excellence while sharing their musical ability with the church and general community.

The first Musician in Residence at Grace Church of Evergreen is Ryan Sheng.

Ryan’s first performance as the Musician in Residence and soloist is Sunday, October 27 and November 3 at 11am.  The Service will be a modern liturgical service with organ and piano as the key instruments involving the old and new in worship styles.  Pastor John Goldstein will be the officiating Worship Leader.   

 All are invited to share in the 11am worship services and to experience the exceptional music leadership of the Musician in Residence.  

Grace Church of Evergreen is located at 2650 Aborn Road, San Jose. Plenty of off street parking!


Ryan Sheng is a founding member of Evergreen Ensemble. He teaches piano voluntarily at Grace Music Institute since 2013. Besides playing piano, Ryan enjoys reading, playing basketball and playing oboe. He is currently the oboist in the Evergreen Valley High School Wind Ensemble and the first Resident Musician at Grace Church of Evergreen.

Ryan started learning to play the piano at age 5 and soon began to perform internationally in competitions and festivals. Most recently, he was invited to participate in 2019 Van Cliburn Junior International Piano Competition Festival and PianoTexas Young Artist Program with full scholarship. As the winner of the concerto competition in PianoTexas, he performed Mozart Concerto No. 21 with Fortworth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya. 

In 2017 he was invited to perform a solo recital at Brussels Music Festival ( ) in Belgium. He was the youngest pianist who was ever invited to the festival. He was one of the 24 contestants of 2016 Gina Bachauer International Competition and a prize winner of many local and international competitions. 

Other prizes he has won include 3rd prize of Virgina Waring International Piano Competition Intermediate category; 2nd prize, Audience Award and Young Jury Award at 2019 Emory piano competition; 1st prize and the special prize of Best Performance of Bence Kutrik Introverted Confessions at the 10th Rosario Marciano International Competition in 2018 in Vienna; 1st prize of 2018 Pacific Music Competition; 2nd prize at 2018 International White Night Festival Piano Competition in Russia, 1st prize at 2014 Schlern International Competition Young Musician Category in Italy and many 1st prizes of US Open Music Competitions. He has been invited by audition to perform in the 2010, 2015 and 2018 Junior Bach Festival. In the summer of 2017 and 2019, he won 1st prize in North Coast International Piano Festival Competition, earning him performances in Carnegie Hall for 2017 and 2018 and 2019 winner’s concerts.