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Faith groups and leaders respond to violence in Ferguson

Communities of faith are working in Ferguson and beyond to bring peace back to the small Missouri town.
Kelsey Dallas, Deseret News Modified: August 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm •  Published: August 15, 2014

In the days since black teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed while in police custody, the small Missouri town of Ferguson has been embroiled in chaos. Protesters have been tear-gassed, two journalists were arrested (and then released) and the FBI has begun an investigation into the situation.

As politicians and newscasters discuss the breakdown in the community for a national audience, faith communities have been organizing cleanup efforts, offering prayers and reflecting on how best to bring peace back to Ferguson.

In its summary of the unfolding violence, Episcopal Café reported on a meeting and prayer service held Tuesday night by an interfaith clergy coalition. Church leaders and local officials gathered to address the protest and to reflect on how to offer comfort to the parents of young black men.

The Rev. Mike Angell wrote a blog for the Episcopal Young Adult and Campus Ministries website, reporting on his experience at the event. He noted that law enforcement and political leaders shared facts and figures about Ferguson's results on racial profiling surveys.

But Angell wrote that the most powerful part of the gathering was black families sharing their fear for their children. He asked his readers to imagine a brighter future for Ferguson and for America, to envision a country where racial tensions no longer erupt into violence.

"Christians believe that all of our stories are caught up in The Story. We believe in a Gospel of love and redemption that is the final story for all people. We can't afford to write out any characters. How can we be a part of writing a new story for our country, a story that sees the death of Michael Brown as a turning point for hope and trust?" Angell wrote.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch explored more informal responses, reporting on volunteer cleanup crews that worked on Wednesday to reverse the damage of the looting and protesting.

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