Practicing biblical obedience in a racist nation

Ferguson​by Reconciling Ministries Network

“Not our children!” rallied clergy in Ferguson, empowered by the leadership of young activists.

RMN board director Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey and executive director Matt Berryman are in Ferguson today following the announcement by the grand jury that there will be no indictment for the killing of unarmed teen Mike Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in August.

“We’re here in non-violent protest because an injustice has been done,” said Lightsey, who marched with a clergy group that closed several street corners near the St. Louis courthouse today, keeping silence for four and half minutes to commemorate the four and a half hours Mike Brown’s body lay in the street.

Boston University School of Theology associate dean Lightsey expressed her profound sadness last evening when she arrived in Ferguson and traveled immediately to W. Florissant Street where she encountered blazing vehicles and buildings and a police force that incited protesters’ anger.

“Black people hear this announcement and feel betrayed,” said Lightsey. “The rage is palpable, and rage comes from the deep pain of the racial wound in this town and our country.”

Lightsey, Berryman, and Rev. Lois McCullen Parr of Chicago marched with the clergy protesters, led by the young people who organized today’s marches. The group stopped to pray at each corner, calling on the power of God’s spirit to bring justice and peace to Ferguson and the nation.

“The parallels of the way that oppression works against LGBTQ persons and black and brown people in systems that are rigged to protect the status quo reminds me of W.E.B. Du Bois who said, ‘a system cannot fail those it was never meant to protect,’” said Berryman. “When pastors are put on church trial for practicing ministry with all people, the institutional discrimination enshrined in The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline sets the stage for punishment,” he explained, “and we see this happening in Ferguson where the institutional discrimination of the police force and the judicial system has predetermined the outcome.”

“If you feel the horror you have to do something about it,” said Parr. “The Gospel compels us to speak, to walk, to demand justice,” she said.

“We practice Biblical Obedience in the prejudiced church and we practice Biblical Obedience in the racist nation,” said Berryman. “While moments like these feel like Good Friday, we live with the Christian hope that redemption and resurrection are on the horizon.”

 

Special Contributor to UMR

Special Contributor

This story was written by a special contributor to The United Methodist Reporter. You may send your article submissions to
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32 Comments on "Practicing biblical obedience in a racist nation"

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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George Nioxn Shuer
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White Privilege is a reality, Judge it however you wish but it cannot be denied it’s a real thing.

Wes Andrews
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The conception of “white privilege” is bigotry, pure and simple. It is not designed to help bring justice and equality. It is designed the marginalize and silence others which is just what progressives desire to do.

Paul W.
Guest

UMR chose an inflammatory headline and commentary which, unfortunately, is both accusatory and unhelpful. Why they chose to do this, rather than provide an insightful Christ-centered commentary, is known only to the editors at UMR. I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion as long as they present it in a balanced and fair manner. This commentary fails on all points: It provides no insight into the issues and is a combination of preaching to their own choir while in-your-face trolling anyone who holds differing views. Come on, UMR, you and your readers deserve better.

james
Guest

and in the meantime, a Bosnian immigrant was beaten to death with hammers in St. Louis–about 20 miles from the all the vitriol that has dominated the news. no protests in that incident on a national scale. this country is so racially divided it is scary. don’t you think/believe that is what the enemy wants?

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Good question. If that individual was not murdered by a police officer, it is considerably less newsworthy than a murder in which a law enforcement officer is the murderer. Does “the enemy” wish America divided racially? Indubitably. What is the solution? Complex, of course, but White America has much to answer for.

George Nioxn Shuer
Guest

I agree 100%. But it’s not nonwhites committing oppression as a group.

Wes Andrews
Guest

The entire philosophy of “white privilege” is patently progressive-racism. As if all people with light colored skin (or any colored skin) think the same or have the same experience across the United States. This thinking is truly manipulative and racists in itself. All people are much MORE than the color of their skin. Progressives are the new dividers.

Wes Andrews
Guest

Exactly. Breaking us into categories is exactly what evil desires. ALL have sinned not just some. “White-privilege” is just another disingenuous way to divide us. And evil loves to divide and conquer.

james
Guest

right on, “the enemy hates clarity.”

james
Guest

Amen.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

What is “inflammatory” about the headline?

james
Guest

a friend just sent me a statement by Benjamine Watson. WatsonLL plays for the New Orleans Saints. Look up his comments–he is right on……………………………

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
TEHC and Wes, I questioned no sources. If you wish to question any of mine, please be specific. I will gladly supply documentation on specific things, but you can do the google however you wish if it doesn’t frighten you. Wes: Darts? Really? It is not me making broad-based accusations, my friend. I’m proud of the UMC and especially the forces advancing human rights therein. If you are unable to articulate the reasons for your emotions, I certainly understand. “God bless mankind, even my attackers…” as Danny Kaye sang in the opening to “Merry Andrew.” Now there’s a man who… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

No, I asked no questions about your sources. I questioned the emotions and sentiment. If you choose to not respond to my posts, that is certainly fine. It makes my task of doing The Lord’s Work simpler. Have a blessed day today and every day.

Brian Scarborough
Guest
The evidence was insufficient for an indictment. There is no analysis at to why so many black men are dying – it is at the hands of other black men, not white policemen. This so-called “racial injustice” where the decks are supposedly stacked against blacks is unbelievably tied to the Book of Discipline which those who favor the loosening of biblical moral standards think is some kind of oppression. It all reminds me of the saying that trial lawyers use. “Argue the facts. If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue, argue,… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Translation: “Pay no attention to the man behnd the curtain!”

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
Hmmmmm. It seems to me the vitriol to which this President has been subjected is indicative of the reality of racism. Yes, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton were just as viciously attacked by the far right conspiracy theorists in our midst, but neither of them had a Member of Congress holler “You lie!” at them during a State of the Union address, Neither were called “boy.” Neither JFK nor WJC were carped at for wardrobe choices (one wag noted, “It’s not the tan suit; it’s the tan President”). Kennedy escaped impeachment, and Clinton’s was certainly an overreach which the Senate… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Interesting. John Brown, Menachem Begin, Flip Benham, Scott Roeder and many other figures in ideological struggles committed violence in support of their respective causes. I don’t condone it but I have yet to hear anyone demand leniency in the Ferguson imbroglio. But, then again I avoid Faux News and Weird Nut Daily.

Mark
Guest

Totally false equivalences.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

Show your work.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest

It is interesting those making unsupported assertions continue to fail to show their work.

Wes Andrews
Guest

That’s usually the case Mark.

Wes Andrews
Guest
Wow. I would say this “special contribution to UMR” is racist, or at least skewed beyond the reality. We are a nation that deals with racism, among other things. We have a good foundation, but that doesn’t solve the problem with human sin. That is for the Gospel to resolve. Progressives seem to forget the Gospel. I admit I have prejudices. It (Any of us, including the contributor of this article) would be dishonest to claim any different. But one of the prejudices I have is not racism. I grew up in the south. My family championed for equal rights… Read more »
MethodistPie
Guest

There was too much police presence. There wasn’t enough police presence. Never mind that the forensic evidence seems to back up the officer’s story. We’ve got a racist narrative and we’re sticking to it!

Kevin
Guest

Rev Lightsey is excusing the rioters destructive behavior because the system failed them. This kind of talk encourages even more destruction and violence. Before this settles down she will have to wash the blood from her hands resulting from her hateful language.

George Nixon Shuler
Guest
After reading “Kevin”‘s comment, I had to read the article again. I see nothing of what he said. I would like to have him “show his work” as was the practice in high school math and such. You can either talk about the elephant in the room, or pretend it doesn’t exist. In America, our “elephant” is racism – acquiescence of chattel slavery in the South by the Jeffersonians and the Northerners kept the fledgling Republic “United” through the Revolution and early independency. The Republican Establishment struck a grand bargain with Southerners to steal the electoral college for Rutherford B.… Read more »
Kevin
Guest

George
Your comments are often entertaining but I see no point in engaging in any sort of dialogue. Go ahead and toss your hand grenades but then please sit back and let the grown ups talk.

Mark
Guest

Matt Berryman’s comments are the rhetorical equivalent of burning businesses in Ferguson…much more hate than love, much more heat than light. Shameful.

Gil Caldwell
Guest
My words are not a direct response to the first or any of the comments. Rather as I read the comments as an 81 year old retired African American United Methodist minister, I remembered my racial journey in Methodism and in the nation. I ponder, what do I have to offer in those moments of our history re; race, or anything else? I have wanted to be a “Wounded Healer” (Henri Nouwen) as I have sought to respond to what Sojourners magazine long ago, called “Racism; America’s Original Sin”. I, in doing this have sought to be pastor, prophet and… Read more »
George Nixon Shuler
Guest

I suppose in a sense, every news story, every snippet of celebrity gossip, is like a Rosarsch Test – we see what we want to see. I do not see what Mark here sees. I see those who follow the fellow who drove the money changers out of the temple here as following in his footsteps. Jesus never was a stand-patter. As Kris Khristofferson sang in one of his old songs, “…reckon they’d just nail him up if he came down again…”. And the forces of reaction would provide the hammer.

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