St. Louis on the Air
1:41 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

How Are Religious Leaders Responding To Ferguson?

From a march in Ferguson on Aug. 15
Protesters gather in Ferguson.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren I St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

As communities seek leaders, members of the clergy are responding.

After the death of Michael Brown, followed by looting, riots, peaceful protests and arrests, local clergy and religious congregations are responding to the turmoil in Ferguson. On Wednesday, we talked to some of those leaders:

  • The Rev. Willis Johnson of Wellspring Church in Ferguson;
  • The Rev. B. T. Rice of New Horizon Seventh Day Christian Church in St. Louis;
  • Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis.
  • Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations;
  • And Bishop Edward Rice of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Religious Statements

Several religious groups and leaders have released statements following the death of Michael Brown and events in Ferguson.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson: “We are all aware of the turmoil and tragedy our St. Louis community is experiencing. The residents of Ferguson, Mo., are struggling to find peace in the chaos. As people of Christ, we are struggling to find direction in the unrest.” Complete statement

The Rev. Roger R. Gustafson, Bishop Central States Synod, ELCA: “We ask your continued prayers for the people of Ferguson, and for Pastor Rick and the congregation of Zion. We can’t be there with them, but our prayers can certainly surround them and hold them up.” Complete statement

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: “In response to the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., which has triggered outrage among some area residents and others across the country, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has called for prayer and peace.” Complete statement

The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri: “The tragic death of Michael Brown and the ensuing events have laid bare the racisms, inequalities, and fears that ordinarily remain well hidden here in St. Louis, often just under the surface. I call upon Episcopalians and other people of faith, especially those whose race or culture gives innate privilege, to look upon what has been laid bare, to pray about these things, humbly to learn from them, and to yearn and work for responses that would bring justice.” Complete statement

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis and Jewish Community Relations Council: “On Saturday, Aug. 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old was shot and killed after an encounter with police in Ferguson. In the days that followed, our region has experienced violence, along with anger, fear, rage, disbelief and bitterness. Even as the details are still emerging, we recognize the great sadness in our community today.” Complete statement

Muslim Matters: “Thirty percent of American Muslims are black. Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by someone employed or protected by the U.S. government. What affects the black community affects us — all life matters, black life matters. It is crucial that we take a good look at what is going on in the working class city of #Ferguson and why it is important for the Muslim community to stand in solidarity with our black brothers, sisters, neighbors, friends and coworkers.” Complete statement

Religious Events

Events are planned throughout the St. Louis area. Know of more? Add them in the comments below.

Faith on the Move: Taking the Heat to the County Seat
When: 7 p.m. today;  clergy are asked to arrive at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Starting at Schnuck’s at Ladue Crossing, 8867 Ladue Road, and marching to the office of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough, 100 S. Central Ave. in Clayton. After a brief demonstration and prayer, participants will caravan to Chambers and West Florissant in Ferguson.
Who: Local clergy and young people, Clergy for a Moral Missouri, Missouri Faith Voices, Communities Creating Opportunity, PICO National Network, and clergy from across the country.

St. Louis Prayers for Peace and Justice, in the Spirit of Taize
When: 7 to 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Gethsemane Lutheran Church — ELCA, 3600 Hampton Ave., St. Louis
Residents also can drop off donations of soap, shaving cream and toothpaste.

Peacefest
When: Sunday
Where: Forest Park
The daylong festival features musical performances, food and vendors. It’s sponsored by Better Family Life.

Healing the Community: We Are Not the Enemy
When: Noon to 2 p.m. Aug. 30
Where: Bethesda Temple, 5401 Bishop J.A. Johnson Lane (I-70 and Bermuda Road), Normandy
The Bethesda Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith Inc. will conduct a roundtable discussion on how to properly respond to law enforcement. The event is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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