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Ferguson, Church, and Continuing the Conversation
In the wake of the no-indictment verdict in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, I noticed an avalanche of tweets, updates, and pictures from people articulating their anger, justification, theology, venom, ignorance, and sadness. In moments like these, in large part due to the ubiquitous nature of social media, everyone is given an opportunity to express ideologies pertaining to our nation's sociopolitical and religious milieu.
I appreciate the democratization of technology that we enjoy, especially via social media. But our anger, sadness, and wisdom tends to be short-lived. Our society suffers from what some have called a "continuous state of partial inattention." Consequently, issues that arise hardly get the kind of slow, thoughtful, and contemplative attention that's required for substantial change to occur in our personal lives, churches, and cities. In a few days or weeks, our anger and concern will subside. The dust will settle and we will be on our way to the next issue the media feeds us. But there is a better way. To begin to see new communities emerge that reflect Jesus' reconciled kingdom reality, the conversation of race and class needs a comprehensive and continual strategy to keep this at the forefront of our theologies and discipleship. We need conversations on matters of race and reconciliation to be perennial dialogues that fill our churches and consequently our cities. After all, this matter is not going anywhere soon. This is what we have endeavored to do at New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, over the past 27 years. Founder Pete Scazzero, an Italian American, wanted to see a church cross barriers of race, culture, economic status, gender, and generation. ...1