We have been in continued prayer for the family of Michael Brown, for Officer Darren Wilson and his family, the community in Ferguson, and local and state leaders. We are also praying for First Presbyterian Church of Ferguson and Rev. Mike Trautman, and all faith leaders in that community. Oak Hill has donated supplies to the Canfield Green Apartment community and the Dellwood Rec Center relief efforts. Pastor Erin is working with other clergy in the area (through STLMCC and MCU) as we organize to plan long term strategies for response, dialog and change in the greater STL area. If you are interested in getting more involved, please let Pastor Erin know.
The PCUSA and its leaders have issued several statements regarding the recent events in Ferguson and the Church’s response. Here are a few excerpts and the links to read the full statements online.
A Call for Calm and Prayerby the Moderator, Vice-Moderator and Stated Clerk of the General Assembly and the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency
Therefore, as people of Christ committed to justice and love, we call for calm in Ferguson as work is done by state and federal officials to seek answers and bring justice. We appeal for an end to the violence, the looting, and the aggressive force, and urge all involved to suspend activities that perpetuate the negative cycle under way.
“A Call to Presbyterians” by the Rev. Landon Whitsitt, Synod of Mid-America Executive
“…I call on the members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA), over 90% of whom are White, to stand with the people of Ferguson and “witness against and strive against” systemic, institutionalize racial injustice.”
“A Call for More Than Judicial Remedies To The Killing of African American Boys and Men” by the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Director, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
“We must get outside our church buildings, beyond our comfort zones, and say loud and clear, “this is my brother and I will not accept that his life is less valuable than mine. The violence has to stop.” We must be willing to challenge the culture that tells African American boys that their lives are worth less than the lives of White boys…”
Statement from Giddings Lovejoy Presbytery
Our hearts break for the family of Michael Brown and for the community of Ferguson. People are shocked, grieving, angry, and frustrated, not just in Ferguson, but across the country and around the world. As Presbyterians we wonder, how is God calling us to respond to this crisis? How can we speak healing words and engage in constructive relationship-building in the wake of this trauma? Last week I invited the Presbytery to engage in prayer. We believe that God hears our prayers for peace and justice, that God is eager to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted. And so our first action is prayer. A phrase that lingers with me from my earliest work for justice and peace is “think globally, act locally.” Take a walk or drive through your own neighborhood, and pray for the people who live in the homes near you, pray for store-owners, for those who work and play in your community. Pray for wellness in the places where you live, work, go to school, and recreate.
We know that what is happening in Ferguson could occur in many of our communities, because the issues of racism and injustice are insidious and pervasive. We also know that shooting deaths of young African American men occur far too frequently and are more likely to occur in neighborhoods that are wracked with poverty and inequity. In addition to praying we also need to act, to bring to bear our best resources to partner with God in creating the world God intends. It is not enough that our hearts are broken. It is not enough only to pray. We must act.
Actions will take various forms—conversations with community leaders, demonstrations of solidarity, providing for the needs of those in desperate circumstances, voting for leaders who will pursue racial justice and peace, building relationships with those whose racial, ethnic, national, economic, language, sexuality, and religion differs from our own. The problems of Ferguson, St. Louis, and our larger world will not be solved in a few weeks or a few years, and we are called to persevere praying for the coming of God’s reign among us.
Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery has a long history of community engagement and education for social justice advocacy. The Dismantling Racism and Privilege Team and the Social Witness Policy Team are working to plan an event that will bring the Presbytery together within the next few weeks to reflect on the situation in Ferguson and grow in our capacity to effectively address racism and violence in our city.
Yours in Service to Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Anita Hendrix, Presbytery Leader, Giddings-Lovejoy
For more info about how Oak Hill is praying and working for justice and peace, and how you can get involved, please follow us on Facebook (Oak Hill Presbyterian Church- St Louis) and Twitter (@oakhillpcusa).