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Ferguson, Mo., church hosts prayer summit

by Brian Koonce/Missouri Pathway, posted Wednesday, November 19, 2014 (an hour ago)

FERGUSON, Mo. (BP) -- As rumors of potential grand jury action swirled across Ferguson, Mo., a hundred Baptists met for a prayer summit at First Baptist Church to pray for the community, the state and the nation.

The prayer summit was led by the North American Mission Board's Gary Frost and Arkansas pastor Bill Elliff.

In Ferguson, Mo., Bill Elliff (with hand raised) and Gary Frost (at left, beside Elliff) lead a prayer summit at First Baptist Church
Photo by Mark Snowden/Pathway

Frost and Elliff led the group in a time of repentance, worship and intercession for themselves and for revival in their churches, their communities and beyond. They also prayed specifically for pastors in the St. Louis area, the focus of national attention in anticipation of a grand jury decision whether to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, a black 18-year-old Aug. 9. In the days after the shooting, Ferguson made international headlines with protests, rioting and the police response amid cries of racism.

"You know all the stuff that has been going on in North County St. Louis," Jim Breeden, director of missions for St. Louis Metro Baptist Association, told the Nov. 13 prayer summit. "We need and will take all the prayers we can get. But it's not really about North County or about race relations; it's really about God's people humbling themselves and coming before the Lord."

In turning the prayer summit's focus toward the church's need for revival, Elliff said revival is "the extraordinary work of the Spirit of God among His people that produces extraordinary results."

"God is moving all the time, but in revival there are these moments when God chooses to rend the heavens and bring His Kingdom in a church, a nation and a life," Elliff said. "But our faith is weak and our prayer is small. We can't fathom what it would be like for God to bring real revival.

"But God has done that and He can do it again. Prayer is the foundation of revival."

Frost addressed Ferguson specifically in his remarks, comparing negativity in the community to negativity in Nehemiah's day as he rebuilt Jerusalem's wall.

"There are people poised for destruction and hoping all literal hell breaks loose," Frost said. "That's the atmosphere we're dealing with. But it's not a matter of policing.

"Only God can heal and thwart the tactics of the enemy." Frost said, referring to Satan. "We need to pray that God would thwart the plans of all the agendas that have shown up here for the purposes of advancing any person and not the glory of God."

Frost is the North American Mission Board's vice president for prayer and for its Midwest Region. Elliff, senior teaching pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Ark., has led prayer summits in 17 states.

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St. Louis Clergy Supporting Non-Violent Expressions of Free Speech
  
Contact: Rev. David Gerth, 314-518-6455314-367-3484; Laura Barrett, 314-443-5915; Rev. Dietra Wise Baker, MCU Clergy Caucus co-chair, 314-517-5928

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 21, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Local clergy who are members of the Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) have announced that they will be opening the doors of their congregations, walking with protesters, worshipping together and supporting non-violent expressions of free speech immediately following the grand jury's decision. The decision is expected in the near future. 

Over the next week, MCU clergy and lay leaders will aid in de-escalation when needed and support protesters in the peaceful, non-violent expression of their feelings.

On November 7 we announced our intention to be present in the streets, and to provide a safe space for all who need a moment of peace and prayer. The following houses of worship will open their doors 24 hours a day in the immediate aftermath of the announcement:

In Missouri with Metropolitan Congregations United -
1.  Central Reform Congregation, 5020 Waterman, St. Louis, Rabbi Susan Talve;
314-361-3919

2.  Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, The Very Rev. Mike Kinman; 
314-231-3454
 

3.  Christ the King UCC, 11370 Old Halls Ferry Florissant, Rev. Traci Blackmon;
314-741-6808
  

4. Compton Heights Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 2149 S. Grand Blvd., Rev. Dr. Jacquelyn (Jacque) Foster; 
314-771-5071
  

5.  Epiphany United Church of Christ, 2911 McNair, St. Louis, Angie O'Gorman;
314-772-0263
 

6.  First Congregational Church of St. Louis, United Church of Christ, 6501 Wydown Blvd, St. Louis, Rev. Heather Arcovich; 
314-721-5060
  

7.  St. Cronan Catholic Church, 1202 S. Boyle St. Louis, Fr. Gerry Kleba; 
314-531-2205
  

8.  Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 3200 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, Rev. Rodney T. Francis, M. Div.; 314-533-8763

 

9.  Webster Groves Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 1320 W. Lockwood, Kirkwood, Rev. Jeff Moore, Dmin, PhD; 314-961-3232

In Illinois with United Congregations of the Metro East (UCM) -
10.  St. John UCC, 10207 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights, IL, Pastor Jim Nolan; 618-397-6323

In addition, a community service is planned at 7 p.m. the evening of the grand jury decision at West Side Baptist Church, 2677 Dunn Rd. in Florissant, and we plan a prayer and public action beginning at 7:00 a.m. the morning following the decision in Shaw Park, 27 S. Brentwood in Clayton.

MCU calls on County Executive Steve Stenger to hold, within the next month, a regional equity summit to seek long-term solutions to end excessive traffic fines and debtors' prison, and to promote community policing with mayors, elected officials, and law enforcement throughout St Louis County. See our petition here (action.groundswell-mvmt.org/petitions/change-police-and-court-pract...). 

MCU is a coalition of interfaith leaders who are Christian (AME, Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ among others), Jewish, Unitarian, and members of the Ethical Society. We believe that nothing short of a movement for human freedom is being rebirthed in our town, calling us as individuals, worshipping communities, and as a region to see one another as beloved children of God and to live our lives that way.

Metropolitan Congregations United is an interdenominational, interfaith, multi-racial community organization of religious congregations in the St. Louis Metropolitan Region that are working for a common purpose: to create a better life for all residents. More online at 
www.mcustl.com.     

Contact: Rev. David Gerth 314-518-6455, 314-367-3484; Laura Barrett, 314-443-5915; Rev. Dietra Wise Baker, MCU Clergy Caucus co-chair, 314-517-5928

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Continuing to pray.

Bishop E.W. Jackson Calls for Pastors to Lead Racial Reconciliation Effort in Aftermath of Nationwide Riots Related to Ferguson Decision
  
Contact: Sandy Adams, 757-375-6444sandy@standamerica.us; Martin Brown, 804-874-6706martin@standamerica.us; both with S.T.A.N.D.

NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 26, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Bishop E.W. Jackson, for Candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia, visited Ferguson during the initial protests and riots. He introduced a Seven Point Plan for avoiding such incidents in the future.
  1. Establish the procedure for calling an emergency meeting when racial incidents occur.
     
  2. Hold that meeting within 24 to 48 hours of an incident to give residents an outlet to express themselves to leaders and public officials.
     
  3. Develop constructive ways to address the problem and prevent rioting.
     
  4. Have Law enforcement, Pastors and community leaders together reassure the community that responses to disorder will be swift, but proportionate.
     
  5. Hold a follow up community meeting within forty-eight hours after the first, and as often as necessary until tension has dissipated.
     
  6. Hold joint press conferences with Pastors, community leaders and law enforcement to show unity.
     
  7. Exclude outsiders from speaking publicly at meetings or press conferences.
Jackson is now calling for a racial reconciliation effort in churches, black and white to bring forgiveness, healing and the grace of God.

"Part of the problem," says The Bishop, "is that the black community is trapped by the past. Eric Holder compared the Michael Brown case to the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy who was tortured and murdered for allegedly speaking to a white woman.  Michael Brown is not Emmett Till. Officer Darren Wilson is not a member of the KKK, and Al Sharpton is definitely not Martin Luther King Jr.

"It is ridiculous that on the day before Thanksgiving there are riots and disruptive protests in 100 cities across America over the Ferguson Grand Jury decision, which was supported by six or seven black witnesses. And it has to be one of history's greatest ironies that black Americans are protesting racism with a black President and Attorney General who have been in office for six years."

Jackson is re-releasing his Seven Point Plan to ministers around the country, and will return to Ferguson to work with ministers there once things have settled down.

E.W. Jackson, a Marine Corps Veteran and graduate of Harvard Law School was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of Virginia in 2013 and currently serves as President of STAND and Bishop of Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, VA.
Bishop E.W. Jackson Condemns Flag Burning and Denounces Call to Shut Down the Country -- Organizes National Service of Reconciliation
 
Contact: Sandy Adams, 757-375-6444sandy@standamerica.us; Martin Brown, 804-874-6706martin@standamerica.us; both with S.T.A.N.D. 
 
NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 1, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Bishop E.W. Jackson, former candidate for Lt. Governor of Virginia, is President of STAND (Staying True to America's National Destiny.) He has called for racial reconciliation instead of protests over the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
 
"Instead of burning the American flag and calling to shut down the country with a walkout," says the Bishop, "we need to be coming together around the vision of 'one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.'"
 
Jackson has expressed sympathy for Brown's family and regret that a young man's life has been cut short, but has opposed treating Michael Brown as a civil rights icon. "He committed a strong arm robbery of a convenience store and then wrestled with a police officer for his gun. We must acknowledge the truth: Michael Brown contributed to his own demise. Black folks are being exploited and manipulated by people like Al Sharpton who stoke fires and then return to their wealthy lives in the very country they condemn. It is absurd."
 
Bishop Jackson also has a message for Christians. "We should not be participants in lawlessness - burning flags, torching buildings, trying to shut down the country. Our young people need jobs. What good does it do to destroy your own community and cripple the American economy? We need to come together with people of good will to pray and work for healing in our country. We need to pray for the police officers as well as the young men who are often a danger to the community as well as the police. Instead of 'hands up, don't shoot,' we should be lifting our hands in prayer asking for God's grace to guide us and bring us together. That is what Dr. King would be doing. That is what we should be doing."
 
Bishop Jackson is organizing a coalition of clergy to hold a National Service of Reconciliation. 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

From Riots to Revival in Ferguson: Billy Graham Chaplains Are Now Deployed to Bring Hope and Healing

By Michael Ireland
Special Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

FERGUSON, MO (ANS) -- Chaplains from the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team have been fanning out and ministering in the city of Ferguson, Missouri following riots that erupted after the recent Grand Jury decision not to indict a local police officer in the Michael brown shooting case, according to Erik Ogren, writing for the Billy Graham website.


Jeff Naber of the Billy Graham Rapid Response 
Team leads a prayer in Ferguson, Missouri 
(Photo: BillyGraham.org)  

"We've heard from several pastors, and they view this as raw spiritual warfare. That's what it is, and it's very obvious," said Jeff Naber, one of the Rapid Response Team. "But with that said, the potential for revival here is extreme."

"This is different than a tornado or flood," said Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplain Strib Boynton as he maneuvered his truck through the streets of Ferguson. "This is changing the hearts of people, of a whole community."

Ogren, in his story for www.billygraham.org, says that this response is unlike anything the crisis-trained chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association have ever encountered in the decade-plus history of the ministry.

Ogren reports that whereas a natural disaster often leaves a wide swath of destruction but dissipates in a way that allows for healing and reconstruction, the unrest in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown is a tragedy of distrust and anger-issues which cannot be solved simply by carryi ng out moldy carpet or patching a roof.

"They feel hopeless and they need to be reminded that all hope isn't lost," said Vivian Dudley, founder and evangelist for One Church Outreach Ministry, as she sat with chaplains just yards away from a dumpster bearing the spray-painted words "If we burn, you burn with us!"

"What the enemy meant to do was to box each of us in to feel like hope is lost. I think that right now the spiritual climate is they need a revival," Dudley said.

The question, Ogren says, on most people's hearts is can peace and faith arise from the ashes of burned buildings and broken hearts? Can reconciliation-and even revival-be borne of the riots?

While hopelessness still weighs heavily on this town of 21,000, there are glimpses of redemption, he writes.

The Rapid Response Team's Mobile Command Truck-parked on space provided by Bishop Giovanni Johnson of the Center for Hope and Peace-has become a meeting point for many, Ogren says.

Throughout the day, he writes, a wide array of peop le-gang members, pastors, police officers, fire fighters, community leaders, family members of Michael Brown, and others-pass through to have a cup of coffee, perhaps get out of the rain, and share their stories with the chaplains.

"This has been an incredible experience for us in Ferguson," said Naber, manager of chaplain development and ministry relations, who has been in the city for nearly two weeks. "We've had gang members the last two days-we're talking about hardened street gangs-and they are curious. They came in, sat down, and prayed with us. They support us and have offered to take us into the community to minister.

"We've had people from the community who have been portrayed as being on opposite sides of this division, but who have cried together, embraced each other and prayed together. There is still a storm raging, but they're looking for healing."

Ogren says that one thing that many who have talked with the chaplains agree on is that if hope and reconciliation are to come to Ferguson, it needs to be spiritual healing.

Dudley, who has her own miraculous story of addiction and redemption on the streets of Ferguson and neighboring Jennings, said, "You see burned down buildings. I see buildings lying prostrate before the Lord. There's a verse that says if they keep quiet, I'll make the rocks cry out. I see the buildings saying, 'Now behold the Lamb.' Because of where I've been, I see so much hope."

Similarly, Bishop Johnson, who is in the process of renovating a former steak house into a gathering place for young people to learn and develop job skills, said, "God has to intervene. God has to intervene, and it could start here."

Editor's Note: ANS Special Reporter Michael Ireland visited St. Louis in April this year with a missions team from his church and is planning on returning to minister at The Dream Center next Spring.


Share     See all ASSIST News articles at www.assistnews.net


** Michael Ireland is a volunteer Internet Journalist and licensed minister who has served as Chief Correspondent and Senior International Correspondent for ASSIST News Service ASSIST News Service. since 1998. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. For a digest of ANS stories, log-on to Mike's Monitor athttps://paper.li/Michael_ASSIST/1410023867

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