Lenten Series: Pilgrimage to Ferguson

March 8, 2016

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson outside of the Canfield Green apartment complex in Ferguson, MO. I had been in my new role as Missioner for Racial Reconciliation for The Episcopal Church for just over one month, and was still learning the ropes of serving on the Presiding Bishop’s staff. Like many people concerned about the violent deaths of young people of color, I wanted our church to respond in ways that could move us forward into reconciliation and justice-making.

On August 19, 2014, the young adults of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) issued a statement that prophetically called upon our church to engage the ministry of ending racial injustice, and to stand in solidarity with those who continued to experience oppression and marginalization. More importantly, the statement asked for guidance, saying “Join us by teaching us the appropriate channels to carry our message…” to the leadership of the church. This statement served as a call for us to form partnerships with clergy and lay leaders in Ferguson and greater St. Louis, and to begin to listen and learn from young adult Episcopalians in new ways.

On October 8, 2015, a very diverse group of 25 young adults embarked upon a pilgrimage to Ferguson sponsored by The Episcopal Church, the UBE, and the Diocese of Missouri. We invited these young leaders to engage in a ministry of presence focused on listening and learning, as we encountered the stories of numerous stakeholders in Ferguson and greater Saint Louis. Our hope was not so much that we would go in and save or change Ferguson, but that the lessons we learned there would save and change us and our church. This video provides an introduction to some of what we learned in Ferguson, and speaks to the powerful ministries of justice-making that are already happening among young adults in our church. In the coming weeks, more video footage will be released, allowing you to see a fuller picture of how our young adult leaders are already engaging in powerful ministries of racial reconciliation and justice-making.

Heidi J. Kim, Missioner for Racial Reconciliation, The Episcopal Church

 

This is the fifth installment of the EPPN's Lenten Series "Engaging the Beloved Community." You may find the previous reflections here. If you would like to have each week's reflection sent to your inbox, go here.