Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: From the Streets to the Pulpit: There Can Be No Peace without Justice

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: From the Streets to the Pulpit: There Can Be No Peace without Justice

Article excerpt

Sunday is for Jesus.

But on Tuesday, I went to church.

In the shadow of the Gateway Arch, on the hot, checkered stone pavers covering the renovated Kiener Plaza, priests, pastors, a rabbi and an imam prayed for St. Louis.

Organized by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the interfaith service was pitched as a prayer for peace, but it was more than that.

From Archbishop Robert Carlson to the Rev. Cassandra Gould and Rabbi James Bennett, men and women of the cloth white, black and brown echoed the words that have been chanted by protesters in the streets of St. Louis since Friday morning when former police Officer James Stockley was found not guilty of murdering Anthony Lamar Smith.

"Where there is no justice, there cannot be peace," Carlson said.

Their collective prayer for St. Louis was not that protests go away or that the city magically heal. They didn't call for quiet or pit blue lives versus black ones. The prayer leaders lamented not broken windows but broken souls. They dug deep into their own beings and challenged each other, and their fellow believers, to apply a spiritual understanding to the pain felt by fellow children of God.

Catholic. Episcopal. Methodist. Evangelical. Jewish. Muslim.

One after another the message was the same.

"We are witness to a people who are raging with anger," said the Rev. George Wayne Smith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. "And it is well placed, I might add."

Smith told a story from the Book of Exodus, when God's chosen people were awaiting direction from Moses. While their leader was away they made an idol, a golden calf.

People in St. Louis have for too long had their own idol that separates them from their maker, Smith said.

"This false God also has a name, and it's called racism," he said. "Racism makes life easier for some of us and unbearable for the rest."

Beyond the verdict, underlying the protests and the disruption, the faith leaders had a message for St. Louis from their blazing pulpit: The city's original sin of racism must be washed away.

"What is disruptive grace?" asked the Rev. Karen Anderson, pastor of Ward Chapel AME Church. "It is God waking us up. …

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