PC(USA) leaders call for calm and prayer in Ferguson crisis

August 19, 2014


He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mic. 6:8, NRSV)

In this time of angst and anger, frustration and fear over the shooting death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls for calm and prayer as justice is sought and righteousness pursued.

We, along with the rest of the world, mourn the loss of this child of God, and are pained that his future was brought to an abrupt halt.

We, along with the rest of the world, seek answers to why an unarmed human being was shot repeatedly, and question the way in which local law enforcement handled the aftermath.

We, along with the rest of the world, are stunned by the violence that has erupted in Ferguson, and acknowledge that the turmoil is rooted both in Michael Brown’s death and in years of disenfranchisement and hopelessness for many in that community.

We, along with the rest of the world, cry out in sadness over the troubled state of race relations in the United States, a situation born out of centuries of unreconciled issues that too often have been translated into distrust, fear, anger, and violence.

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.

We also call on our nation as a whole to pray without ceasing for healing in Ferguson, and for real dialogue and action at local, state, and national levels to improve race relations in the U.S. The PC(USA) stands firm on its historic commitments to equality and human rights, and will continue as a denomination to press for fairness and justice for all of God’s people.

O God, with heavy hearts we turn to you. Another life taken. Another future robbed. Another young person of color killed. One death that led to injury, violence, and unrest in the days that followed, exposing divisions and systems of injustice. Struggle and confrontation that continues today.

Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

Family, friends, loved ones, and neighbors of Michael Brown unable to mourn in peace because their backyards are filled with tear gas, rubber bullets, violence, and military force. Children unable to attend school. A place where the shadows of night bring uncertainty instead of rest. A place that could be our place, too.

Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

A time where hands in the air not only mean surrender but solidarity. As differences seek to rule the day, we search for another path, a new way to live in community. Change our hearts and transform them from places that see “otherness” to ones that honor your image in each person. Guide us to use our voices to name the racism still thriving in our midst, striving for systems of accountability that maintain justice for all people. Strengthen us for the difficult, but beautiful, work of dismantling racism and building a community where all are welcomed and honored.

Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

There are no excuses. There are no reset buttons. There is just us, your faithful people, seeking ways to bring hope into a time in such desperate need of it. Stir our hearts, free our minds, guide us to follow your way. Help us to push aside our complacency to make room for your Spirit, calling us forward from this place. Make us instruments of your peace.

Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada
Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)

The Reverend Larissa Kwong Abazia
Vice Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)

Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency

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  1. Will this work stand up if the police officer's story turns out to be correct?

    by Richard Aubrey

    October 21, 2014

  2. I too pray for Darren Wilson, that as a child of God, he obey God's commandments, and in doing so, sin no more.

    by bob swann

    August 24, 2014

  3. Ferguson, Mo. is a microcosm of what is happening in many parts of America. Many police departments proudly display the mantra, "protect and serve" but this seems to apply only to themselves. When will these senseless killings stop!

    by Robert Swann

    August 24, 2014

  4. I agree with P small in that all involved need our prayers. I pray for the community as a WHOLE who must endure this travesty of humanity. Let us keep all peoples of AL races within our prayers.

    by Vicki Maline

    August 19, 2014

  5. I too pray for calm and prayers for Ferguson. Where , however, in this prayer litany by our leaders in PC (USA) are the prayers for Darren Wilson and his family and the rest of the police of Ferguson and their families ? It's absence speaks volumes to me. Is he not also a child of God?

    by P small

    August 19, 2014

  6. I would like to ask for a statement asking the police to calm down. There were guns pointed at peaceful observers from Amnesty International. Where is the request for calm for law enforcement? Where is the voice from the church on that?

    by Noelle Royer

    August 19, 2014

  7. Sooner or later we have to confess to and face issues of race and class in our own church.....

    by robert brashear

    August 19, 2014

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