After Ferguson, Area Church Leaders Push for Greater Understanding of Race and Faith

Aug 26, 2014

Credit Brentwood Christian Church

The recent events in Ferguson have left an impression on individuals and organizations across the nation. Locally, an interfaith prayer service in Springfield Monday has been among the events to honor Michael Brown. And as KSMU’s Bailey Wiles reports, area clergy hope they can aid in strengthening the community’s views on race.

Reverend Phil Snider is the pastor of Brentwood Christian Church. Three years ago, it launched the greater Springfield Center of Diversity and Reconciliation, which responds to needs of reconciliation and the building of a healthy community for everyone.

“As followers of Christ, we are called to be in solidarity with those who have been the victims of unjust violence. Jesus Christ was a victim of unjust violence. As human beings, we have got to find a way to stand together, to be in solidarity so that this never happens again,” Snider said.

Reverend Snider says his heart breaks for Ferguson.

“I think it’s important to think about how Ferguson could be anywhere in the United States because there were ingredients in Ferguson that are far too frequently the norm in communities across the United States. Here in Springfield, I hope that we can be proactive because it’s far too easy to think that racism is a thing of the past.”

Snider has spoken with many of his congregates and others in person and on social media about the Michael Brown shooting. To be proactive, he recommends that organizations sponsor diversity workshops or reconciliation and anti-racist training initiatives.

“The things that are happening in Ferguson are a direct result of our unreconciled racial relationships.”

Father Moses Berry is with the Unexpected Joy Orthodox Church in Ash Grove.

“There has always been this tension that has been there just under the surface concerning race in America. And this tension stems from not ever actually facing the differences we that we have between one another.”

Father Berry has conducted services concerning civil unrest and has also held vigils and prayer services for racial reconciliation and the healing of Ferguson.

“The scripture says that we believe that in Christ there is no east or west, no bound nor free man, no Gentile nor Jew and we are trying to have our people begin to embody that lofty attitude of forgiving one another. The reason why there is such a mess is because humanity is such a mess. It’s not because the cops are bad and the black people are so lovely and nice. It’s because of the fallen nature of man.”

Moses is meeting with the Black Ministerial Alliance of Cleveland this week to discuss racially unresolved issues inside each community. He hopes that in the Ozarks we can learn to support rather than condemn one another and live in peace as a community.

Reverent Phil Snider encourages people to visit the website of the Greater Springfield Race and Faith Collaborative, at www.raceandfaith.com. There, one can find many different resources and tools as it relates to race that can be used in all kind of different settings, contexts, and circumstances.

Beginning September 2, [Reverend Phil] Snider will host a workshop entitled “Race, Religion, and the Dream of a Beloved Community” at Brentwood Christian Church. Snider and others participants will discuss matters related to the Ferguson events and that of race and religion.