Father Erik, an ordained priest of our church, posted to our seminary forum about the racial protests going on in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer fatally shot a young black man.
Father Erik writes:
…the presence of clergy amongst the protesters …[reportedly has had] a recent calming effect. As the article says, where tear gas and rubber bullets did not work, having a significant presence of clergy engaging persons seems to have a positive effect in reducing additional violence. http://www.buzzfeed.com/jimdalrympleii/how-clergy-in-ferguson-succeeded-where-the-police-failed
…A pastor local to me stated that when the MO State Police got involved one of their commanding officers helped calm the crowds by walking with them in a protest march. If that is an accurate report, we see another example of face-to-face human interaction having a positive, peaceful effect over and above the use of gas and bullets.
As the movie “The Five Element” observed, violence begets violence.
Now I’m neither a peace- or war-monger. I feel there are times when violence must be met with violence. But it is never a long-term solution.
I find it encouraging that clergy began to show a significant presence (over 100 as per the report) and that this has begun a positive shift. It seems it might collectively give us something to think about.
So too, the larger social issues are worth consideration. These are national and even international problems, so our individual effective response is limited. To my mind a popular bumper sticker summed this dilemma up nicely: “Think Globally – Act Locally.”
My gut instinct is that we are most effect close to home, where we can look someone in the eye. Voting is important, and being active in our local communities is important.
The following is a YouTube link to a sermon which addresses these points (I think it was the one that mentioned the MO State Police too).
“Offending the Pious”
http://youtu.be/Ny3yajLR9zQ?list=UUeF1t9dro_UwXa5qO_FH7bg (17-minutes long)
Another reason to become an ordained minister, rabbi, or other clergy
You can be one of the peacemakers. There is work to be done in ministry. If you have heard the Call to serve as a spiritual guide, a member of the clergy, to become an ordained minister, reverend, rabbi — now might be your time to answer that Call.
Here is another article on the subject,
Clergy calm tension on the streets of Ferguson — where you can see several photographs of ordained clergy in Ferguson, both men and women ministers, priests, black and white, all working together to bring peace. It’s worth remembering that the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an ordained minister, Doctor of Divinity, and a peacemaker with martyr-like stature surpassing Ghandi.