Covenant Voices on Ferguson, Race, and the Church

CHICAGO, IL (August 20, 2014) — Covenanters have been posting on their blogs and social media outlets about their impression of what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri, and the issues underlying the current upheaval. Others have written for or been interviewed by national publications. The Covenant Companion and Covenant News Service have published multiple articles in the past year on issues related to racial righteousness. Click on the links to read the posts. We pray these will be helpful in furthering honest, respectful, and ultimately fruitful discussions on race.

An Exhortation to Prayer, Fasting, and Learning

On the Pacific Northwest Conference’s Facebook page, Superintendent Greg Yee, wrote, “.., in my struggle in how best to frame the tragedy and horror around Michael Brown and what is currently being played out in Ferguson, MO, I call us to a time of earnest PRAYER/FASTING and LEARNING. I call you to embrace this moment, no matter how familiar or foreign it feels, and to let your heart be broken as God’s heart is broken. We are to be ambassadors of reconciliation, lovers of neighbors, and doers of justice. To be so must always include prayer/fasting, learning, and being broken ourselves. What results is being remade into Christ in his kingdom.”

Please Don’t Ignore It: Five Ways That Christians and Churches Must Engage Michael Brown’s Death

Eugene Cho, pastor of Quest Church in Seattle, Washington, and author of the upcoming book, Overrated, wrote on his blog,

Now, let me be clear. I don’t know all the details—not just because my family and I have been on our summer family vacation and almost oblivious to the early days of this past week but because the full details have yet to be shared, shown, distributed—let alone the integrity of those details.

But when it’s all said and done. When all the finger pointing and screaming subsides. When the focus on the looting and violence gets rightly placed back at the crux of the matter, what we have left is:

the death of an 18-year-old unarmed young black man

Let that sink in.

Invitation to Disruption: A Call to White Churches

José Humphreys, pastor of Metro Hope Covenant Church, and Mayra Lopez-Humphreys, associate pastor at the church, wrote in an article for Sojourners that “We strongly believe all voices are needed at this time. If our white brothers and sisters are perhaps waiting for the right moment—this is indeed the moment. It’s a moment to rise beyond the moderateness Dr. King spoke against in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail when he wrote, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We have before us a prophetic opportunity to speak with both imagination and urgency about suffering with those who suffer, and to seek changes to avoid further pain.”

Racial Profiling, Thug-ology, and the Church

Efrem Smith, former superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference and currently serving as president and CEO of World Impact, a urban missions organization, listed four times in his blog post that he had been the victim of racial profiling multiple times, and four examples of violence and gang infestation he had witnessed. He adds, “As African Americans, we can no longer live in denial about the deep seated culture and the glamorization of contextualized thug-ology within our communities.  … Let me say right now that thug-ology does not justify racial profiling and the deaths of too many African American young males by police. At the same time, racial profiling does not justify the denial of the significance of contextualized thug-ology culture within too many predominately African American communities.”

Reconciling Is a Sacrificial Endeavor

Dominique Gilliard, pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Oakland, California, was interviewed by Christianity Today. Asked about what racism is, Gilliard responded, “Racism is part of our nation’s anatomy; as a result, it’s nearly impossible to detect with the untrained eye. While many reduce racism to individual acts, racism is also institutional and systemic. These manifestations of racism are far more pervasive and just as harmful. They are clandestinely enacted in ways where no one person is at fault, yet many are responsible.”

He responded to a question about times Christians have helped heal racial divides by saying, “The Freedom Riders and Clarence Jordan’s Koinonia Farming Community. In both cases, Christians humbly acknowledged racism and their culpability, and in repentance chose to actively turn from the status quo to live counter-culturally for Christ. They were persecuted, physically harmed, and socially ostracized. Nevertheless, they were longsuffering, and their faithfulness produced healing and fruitfulness that remains evident today.”

 

Previous Companion and Covenant News Service stories:

What Is the Church to Do in Response to Ferguson?

Leaders from the ECC’s Love Mercy and Do Justice initiative share their perspectives on the larger questions raised by Michael Brown’s death and the ensuing events.

Loud Questions During a Moment of Silence

Our new editorial resident, Megan Herrold, attended a Chicago vigil in support of the Ferguson protests. Here are the challenging questions that haunted her during the event.

What Black Covenanters Want to Say to White Covenanters: A Companion Reprint

This is a reprint from a 1996 issue that includes reflections from African American Covenanters.

Hitting a Nerve

Alex Gee, pastor of Fountain of Life Covenant Church in Madison, Wisconsin, is interviewed about the Justified Anger movement that was launched after he wrote an op-ed article on racial disparity in the city for a local newspaper.

Justified Anger Town Hall Meeting

A Town Hall meeting that drew 550 people was held at Fountain of Life Covenant Church. A video of the event features comments by Gee and others from the community.

Doing a ‘New’ Thing—Still

This article written by Edward Gilbreath, executive director of Communications for the Evangelical Covenant Church, first appeared in 2009 on the Urban Faith website to mark the twentieth anniversary of Spike Lee’s movie Do the Right Thing.

We had decided on Thursday, August 7, to run the article the following Monday. That Saturday, Michael Brown was killed and the riots ensued. The article included these questions: “… how does Do the Right Thing play in this so-called ‘age of Obama’? Is it still relevant?”

To the (Probably White) Person Who Says It Shouldn’t Be About Race

This is a reprint from a blog post by Jelani Greenidge, a regular contributor to the Covenant Companion. He also published on his blog last week, a post titled Ferguson Is Closer Than You Think.

Covenanters Share Their Experiences of Being Profiled

Eight brief videos of Covenanters sharing their stories.

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