What Is the Church to Do in Response to Ferguson?

CHICAGO, IL (August 19, 2014) — Following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown and the ensuing protests and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, many people are asking themselves how the church should respond. Debbie Blue, executive minister of Love Mercy and Do Justice, admits she has the same questions. “I want to do something, but I don’t know what to do,” she said this afternoon.

She suggested, however, that a starting point is to simply acknowledge that a tragedy has happened and to sit and mourn, both with those around us as well as with the wider church.

Blue shared a litany that was originally distributed in 2012 by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in the wake of the Trayvon Martin slaying. Blue suggests this updated litany could be used as a resource to help church communities find a way to stand in solidarity with people who are in pain as a result of the events in Ferguson and similar incidents across the nation.

Pointing to Romans 12:15, Blue said that as a church community, we’re called to “rejoice with those who rejoice [and] mourn with those who mourn.” For some of us, that may also mean taking the time to listen and learn why this is such a personal pain, even for people who weren’t directly affected by Michael Brown’s death, she added.

Blue is not directly affected and yet the Michael Brown shooting is personal, she said. The August 9 incident is just the latest in a long history of unarmed black men being killed by police and one of several recent incidents, she said, adding it is a threat faced regularly by African Americans, including her sons, grandsons, nephews, and cousins. Some of her relatives have been victims of racial profiling.

Too often some people are treated as “disposable,” she said. “This matters to God and it has to matter to us. And that’s what the litany is about,” Blue explained. “We can’t be silent.”

Lament acknowledges the pain and lets God’s presence enter into that place of hurt so that healing and hope are possible, Blue said. “That’s what the litany seeks to do.”

Cecilia Williams, ministry initiatives director for Love Mercy and Do Justice, added that even as lament can lead to hope, hope must lead to action.

“There’s a history of the church being at the forefront” of these change movements, Williams said. “Why doesn’t that [still] happen?”

“I think God is saying it’s time to put the humanity back in these situations,” she said.

Click here for “A Litany for Our Slain Children.”

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About the Author

Megan is an M.Div. student at North Park Theological Seminary, a former pastoral intern at Dublin Vineyard Church in Ireland, and currently the editorial resident for Covenant Communications. She says she felt privileged to work on the 40 under 40 project, learning about amazing things Covenanters are doing. Her vices include Netflix and killersudokuonline.com.

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5 Comments

  1. Again such richness from my brothers and sisters!! Your words continue to rise up and challenge the brokenhearted . This is a life choice that will bring knowledge of the hurting and understanding and compassion where there is none. There is no “quick fix.” It is an impossible situation. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am nothing. First Corinthians 13.

  2. It shatters my soul that all of my brothers and sisters whether Black, Russian, Mexican, and the list goes on and on. Have to be profiled and killed or abused. I think back to Bill Cosby’s son. You are black therefore this Mercedes that you are driving in couldn’t be yours. You must have stole it. I hate it, I hate it. I have found such deep richness in my brothers and sisters. And I would die for them.

  3. The greater tragedy is that we are not getting the full, true story and also that many young black men are being killed every day in Chicago and other places by other black men! When are responsible people going to step into this tragedy and resolve it?

  4. I struggle to know how to respond as well. My idealism says tragedies like this should not occur. And yet too frequently they do. We as human beings need to rise above the color of a persons skin, gender or creed so that we can treat all people with equity. The same equity and grace that is extended to us by God through Jesus. Unfortunately fear, anger and hatred invade our world and people become caught up in these negative emotions and feel justified in taking action. Sad to say that the Church has often become a part of the abuse and the fear mongering throughout its history. Needless to say it is not the only religious institution that has played and is playing a part in oppression, territorialism, and materialism. All of these drive the haves and the have nots against one another. What if we were to live as if Galatians 3:27-29 were true for all, Not just those who have been Baptized in Christ?
    “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. – Galatians 3:27-29 –
    Every person has the potential to be baptized in Christ. — What if the church began to model this in itself in this manner… That is churches become a place where people of different hues of skin, cultures, and genders intermingle, rejoice and care for one another, grieve and mourn with one another, live and work together in peace and fellowship! We would have to realize that we do not have to give up who we are to appreciate and respect others and who they are. – I hold out hope, but I know that it will take work!!!! Blessings to all!

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