Pastors In Ferguson Urge Peace and Prayer After Grand Jury Decision

A clergy member holds hands with protestors as they shut down a street in St. Louis., on November 23, 2014. Photo by Justin L. Stewart
A clergy member holds hands with protestors as they shut down a street in St. Louis., on November 23, 2014. Photo by Justin L. Stewart

Like so many others Monday (Nov. 24) night, the congregants at West Side Missionary Baptist Church were glued to televisions as a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was announced.

One woman sobbed in her chair as she learned that police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting.

Then, with the press conference far from over, the church’s television went dark. And the congregants at the church turned instead to prayer and preaching.

Within seconds, the Rev. Starsky Wilson was at the pulpit, calling for “contrary folk.”

“Thank God for people who go against the teachings of the church,” Wilson said, while referencing those who had told the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that he was moving too fast on civil rights issues. “Thank God for contrary young people.

“To be contrary is to say we’ve had enough.”

Wilson was named by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a co-chair of the 16-member Ferguson Commission to look for a way forward after Brown’s death.

On Monday evening, he said that despite the failure of the system to indict Wilson, the road ahead was not impossible. “God through faith turns curses into blessings,” Wilson said. “Ordinary people with extraordinary faith can change the world.”

The Rev. C. Jessel Strong, president of the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, also took the pulpit. “We’re here because we’re sick and tired,” Strong said. “Why does it seem all of our children are shot by the police?”

At the same hour, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson gathered for prayer at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Roman Catholic Church in Ferguson. Later, he issued a statement calling for calm:

“I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems,” the archbishop wrote. “Violence only creates more violence. Let’s work for a better, stronger, more holy community — one founded upon respect for each other, respect for life, and our shared responsibility for the common good.”

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
(Lilly Fowler writes for The Post-Dispatch in St. Louis. Margaret Gillerman of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.)

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