Preparing for the grand jury announcement from Ferguson
by Jim Antal
|In the aftermath of last night's announcement, we encourage churches to organize prayer vigils (please let us know if you are planning a vigil).
Link to a response to the verdict by Associate Conference Minister Kelly Gallagher here.
Read CTUCC Conference Minister Kent Siladi's statement on the Grand Jury decision here.
Read the statement by the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, here.
Read "UCC Joins Calls for Peaceful Protest" by UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, here.
As we approach Thanksgiving, there is so much to be thankful for. Serving God in this Conference is among our greatest blessings. Thanks be to God for you and the ministry of our churches.
Even as we give thanks, we are all aware that soon, the grand jury will announce whether the police officer who fired on Michael Brown will be indicted on criminal charges for Michael's death.
Earlier this week, the leaders of the Connecticut Conference UCC’s Sacred Conversations on Race Ministry sent out the email below. With permission from CTUCC Conference Minister Kent Siladi, we are sharing that message with you. (SEE BELOW)
At a recent historic joint Board meeting of the Boards of the Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts Conferences, we affirmed a new spirit of interdependence and cooperation among our three Conferences. The Connecticut Conference has developed an effective Sacred Conversations on Race Ministry over the past few years and we want the MACUCC to benefit from their learnings. Click here for resources and to learn more: http://www.ctucc.org/sacredconversations/index.php
Jim Antal Kelly Gallagher
Minister and President Associate Conference Minister
Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ
Grace and peace to you in the name of our brother Jesus Christ, from the Co-Chairs of the Sacred Conversations on Race Ministry, Rev. Dr. Keith Bolton and Rev. Deborah Blood.
We are getting close to the time when the grand jury will announce whether the police officer who fired on Michael Brown will be indicted on criminal charges for Michael's death. Emotions are running high in Ferguson, and around the country. As with an impending hurricane or tornado, we have warning of the storm ahead, and now we must prepare. As with a predicted storm, we know it is coming, but don't know all of its effects.
How can we prepare for this storm? As part of our mission to unmask, dismantle and eradicate racism, we invite you to address the grand jury decision with prophetic and pastoral courage and grace -- and to prepare to help your congregations create safe space for conversation, and lament, and reaction. No matter which way the decision goes, some people will lament. Some will rejoice. Some will want to ignore or discount the importance of the decision and minimize the reality of racism as a destructive reality in our country.
Here are some suggestions, and we would invite you to share your own ideas as well:
- Pray. Either deepen your prayer for the situation, or get started now. Pray for an end to racism, for the family of Michael Brown, for the people of Ferguson, for the police and other government officials. Raise it up in church, on prayer chains, in every setting you can.
- Start thinking now about your congregation/community and their likely reactions, and needs. Are there other churches you could join with? Are there other faith communities? Reach out to other clergy and leaders to plan and strategize. Reach out within your congregation to those who will support this effort. Get ready now!
- Gather for yourself the supplies and sustenance you will need. Be well-informed and spiritually centered.
- Create safe space to meet and enter into conversation -- to lament and give thanks -- to share reactions, fears and hopes. It may be immediate or within 24 or 48 hours. Gather the resources needed to support honest engagement undertaken in covenant, with a goal of unmasking, dismantling and eradicating racism.
- Prepare to preach against racism, now and on a regular basis.
This is not an exhaustive list, but we hope it will spark preparations. We urge all congregations to engage this situation in a meaningful way.
If you have questions, comments, ideas or suggestions, please contact one of us. As part of our commitment to the ministry of ending racism, we must take action in community.
May God grant us grace and strength in the struggle.
In Christ's peace,
The Rev. Dr. Keith Bolton, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Ms. Deborah Blood, email@example.com
Co-Chairs of the Sacred Conversations on Race Ministry
CT Conference UCC