Bishop Robert Schnase of the Missouri Annual Conference shared an update on how The United Methodist Church is responding to the events in recent days in Ferguson, Missouri. In an email, he lifted up a few significant points of engagement and offerings of ministry.
Bishop Schnase writes that the Missouri Conference launched a new church start in Ferguson two years ago after identifying the community as underserved by The United Methodist Church. Wellspring United Methodist Church is located two blocks from the area seen frequently on television news in recent days. The congregation has offered services of prayer and reconciliation and provided meeting space for community and church leaders. Under the leadership of Rev. Willis Johnson, the church has been on the forefront of efforts to ease tensions, offer consolation and prayer for those who grieve, and to seek the truth about the events that led to the death of Michael Brown.
Rev. Johnson was interviewed on the NPR program All Things Considered last week. "The interview and the accompanying photograph are powerful, and they bear witness to the courage and faith of United Methodists on the front lines as they engage issues of race, anger, fear, and a longing for reconciliation," wrote Bishop Schnase.
Listen to the interview at:
He also encouraged United Methodists to read the UMNS article highlighting the involvement of other United Methodist Churches in the St. Louis area and from across Missouri that have reached out with volunteers to help with educational ministries for children and youth during the time that the Ferguson schools have been closed. Bishop Schnase shares that the Missouri Conference Office of Mission, Service, and Justice has also offered support and volunteers to help with such basic tasks as clean up and support for those businesses that have been looted or suffered damage.
Find the article "Church leaders strive to be peacemakers in Ferguson" at:
"United Methodist voices, including that of the Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (an active United Methodist himself), have sought to de-escalate rather than to intensify, to work toward peace and justice rather than to avoid, blame, or ignore," wrote Bishop Schnase.
"We continue to hold in our prayers all those who have most personally and painfully been affected by the violence, and we continue to look for opportunities to serve and to bring a ministry of healing to a community that has been deeply hurt," he said. "We ask for your support."