When a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer for killing an unarmed black man, reactions across the country were varied and intense.
The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC), created by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 205th General Assembly (1993), has added its voice to the mix with a statement expressing “deep concern and holy outrage” at the verdict.
“We felt that what happened in Ferguson is part and parcel of the life of the church because it’s part of the life on the nation,” said Raafat Zaki, chairman of the committee.
ACREC’s responsibilities are to be a prophetic voice for the church, to help form public policy, to monitor the implementation of church policies and to advocate for the full access and equality of racial-ethnic members of the church, Zaki said.
As part of these responsibilities, ACREC periodically releases statements on current events. These statements are published on ACREC’s webpage and distributed to Presbyterian groups.
“We sincerely want to engage the church in a prayerful dialogue to seek reconciliation,” Zaki said, adding that the statements can also serve as “interpretative tools.”
“A statement like this serves to interpret reality for people who might be in the majority … or might not grasp how serious the situation is,” he said.
The full text of ACREC’s statement about the Ferguson verdict:
The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns expresses deep concern and holy outrage at the verdict given in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. We lament that justice was denied for Michael Brown, his family, and the citizens of the U.S., especially people of color. A justice system that fails to indict a white officer standing trial for killing an unarmed 18-year-old black youth perpetuates the sin of racism in a society that fails to affirm that black lives matter.
We pray for courage for the church, that we might not only confess our complicity in a system that makes such a verdict possible, but that we might be a prophetic witness through a loud and clear voice to the world of the just love and peace of Jesus Christ.
We pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, who suffer not only the failure of our justice system, but also the loss of their beloved.
We pray for all victims of systemic racial injustice, recognizing God’s mandate to us to raise our voices and to work against such injustice.
And also, we pray for a world where God’s peace and love reign and for the grace, wisdom and strength from God to do the work of making it so.