Ferguson: How Should The Church Respond? -- By: Ken L. Davis

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 19:1 (Spring 2015)
Article: Ferguson: How Should The Church Respond?
Author: Ken L. Davis


Ferguson:
How Should The Church Respond?

Ken Davis

Director of Church Planting
Baptist Bible Seminary
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Dr. Charles Ware

President
Crossroads Bible College
Indianapolis, Indiana

Introduction

What happened last August (2014) in Ferguson, Missouri, when a white police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown may never be known with any certainty. What is certain, however, is that the events on that summer evening and their aftermath have exposed a profound divide between black and white Americans. The assumption—and the hope of many after Barack Obama’s election to the office of president—that Americans were living in a “post–racial America”— has now been dashed.1

The long–awaited November grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson was further seen by most African–Americans and quite a few whites as a great injustice and a failure of the American legal system. The grand jury failure to indict in the soon–to–follow Staten Island, New York, case where another white policeman seemed to choke to death Eric Garner

only confirmed to many African–Americans the sad and lingering plight of black men in our “racist” nation. These events reminded many of the not–too–distant 2012 shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by Hispanic security officer George Zimmerman in Florida. And these events have left many in the nation feeling angry, saddened, and hopeless.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. The sad reality is that dozens of similar black deaths slip beneath the national news media radar every week in America. According to a USA Today analysis of the most recent FBI data, at least 100 African–Americans were killed by white police gunfire each year from 2005 to 2012.2 A good number were unarmed men slain under suspicious circumstances. The actual numbers could be much higher because law enforcement officials self–report, and there is no conclusive national database.

Even before Ferguson, a national study had revealed what many involved in intercultural ministry have sensed for years: the majority of African–Americans still believe racism is a big issue continuing in American society while the majority of whites do not think racism is a significant factor.3 The events of 2014 did

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