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Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

The events surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown in August have brought light to a number of critical (but often overlooked) issues related to race relations and power in our country. The reality is that all death is tragic and is evidence of the fall of creation and the brokenness of the world. As agents of reconciliation who care about the transformation of students/faculty and the renewal of structures, we believe that this is a “divine moment” where God is inviting us to engage these issues proactively (please see our first response article here). This packet is designed to help you and your community in this path of faithful, proactive engagement as we seek to embody the redemptive influence of God’s kingdom on our campuses and in our country.

We are releasing this packet now because the indictment decision likely will be in November. In communities most impacted by the death of Michael Brown and the systemic oppression that he faced as a young Black male, there is a belief that the indictment process has not sought justice for Michael Brown, and it is likely that there will be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson.

This decision (whether or not there is an indictment) will present the next clear opportunity for us to engage with the issues at play in cities like Ferguson (police brutality, de-valuing of Black lives, poverty, etc.) on our campus and in our communities. We are proposing your engagement as a community in several ways. While not all steps are necessary (or possible) in your situation, we encourage you to think about a multi-step engagement to build momentum for the call for justice on your campus.

Here is the list of steps we can take (summaries below, full description on google drive):

Familiarize yourself with the issues surrounding the case and issues regarding non-violent resistance and demonstration. Spend time listening to your community and in repentance. Reach out as soon as you can to potential allies on campus or in your community (e.g. Black Student Union, Multicultural Office, churches, etc.). Do a survey on campus to understand student sentiment on Ferguson. Implement a visible action that brings the conversation of justice in a greater way to your campus. Host a prayer gathering on your campus within the first week of the announcement. Use the Police Brutality proxe created by Brandi Miller. Focus your next gathering on this topic within a week or two of the announcement.

As you move forward take time with your leaders to discern next steps, consider coming to an Urban Project in the spring and research places of injustice on your own campus that you can engage in.

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions:

Jon Hietbrink, jon.hietbrink@intervarsity.org, InterVarsity Regional Director, Central US Howie Meloch, howie.meloch@intervarsity.org, InterVarsity Associate Regional Director, Central US

Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

Familiarize yourself with the issues surrounding the case and issues regarding non- violent resistance and demonstration. Spend time listening and in repentance The St Louis American is a historic African American newspaper in St Louis that is a helpful addition to other web resources that you are looking at for coverage. Letter from the Birmingham Jail is Martin Luther King Jr’s response to ministers who were asking for him and others to stop their active public civil disobedience against systemic oppression. If you have read this much can be gained from a Massey Lecture Dr. King gave bringing perspective to the race riots of his day. Spend time listening to students and faculty in your community and spend time in repentance. We’ve also found that articles by Christina Cleveland, Terrance Hawkins, and Scott Bessenecker help in our thoughtful engagement. Review stories of public witness in scripture:

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Moses publically calling the Pharaoh to repentance, the consequences for his lack of

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repentance, and the public march that follows in the beginning of Exodus Ezekiel’s public morality play in Ezekiel 4

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God’s call to Habakkuk to write the vision (of justice and righteousness) and make it

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plain in Habukkuk 2:2 Jesus speaking against the religious and political leaders (teachers of the law were

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both) in the public square in Matthew 23 Paul, in prison for disobeying the authorities, encouraging us in Romans 12 not to

resist authorities but not calling for our obedience of them over God’s directives

Reach out as soon as you can to potential allies on campus or in your community (e.g. Black Student Union, Multicultural Office, churches, etc.).

 Sample call or office visit Introduce yourself Say that you are praying for and care
Sample call or office visit
Introduce yourself
Say that you are praying for and care about the impending announcement of the
indictment decision.
Ask them how they have engaged with the shooting and demonstrations so far.
Ask what they have planned in response to the indictment decision.
Ask if there are any ways your InterVarsity group can support or help in their event.
Share what you are planning and hear any feedback that they would like to give.
When the decision is announced – reach out to them again and check in how they
are doing. Ask if you can pray for their leadership in this season.
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Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

Do a survey on campus to understand the sentiment of students on campus to the shooting and demonstrations.

Survey Purpose: Student Sentiment on the Ferguson Shooting and Response Instructions for Survey Giver:

As you approach a student to survey please identify yourself as an InterVarsity member and the purpose of the survey. For example:

Hi my name is

and I am a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. We

_____________________ are talking to as many students as possible today because very soon (or already) the prosecutors will

announce whether a Ferguson police officer will face charges for the shooting Michael Brown. We are trying to interact with students to gage their awareness and how they are thinking and feeling about the issue of race that the shooting and demonstrations have brought to light. We plan present some of the results of our survey at our next InterVarsity Chapter meeting on

__________________.

Do you have a few minutes to take the survey?

Please do not take more than 3-5 minutes with each survey unless it is clear that the student wants to engage further in conversation with you on the issue. Also please note that while our desire is to genuinely gage where student sentiment is on the issue of racial strife and systemic injustice in the U.S., our greatest goal is to create dialogue that leads to understanding and awareness on the race crisis. After the survey, be sure to thank them and invite them to join you at next chapter meeting for the survey results.

Questions:

  • 1. Have you been following the situation in Ferguson, MO, regarding the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9 th and the demonstrations that followed? How has it impacted you personally?

  • 2. What has been most alarming for you about the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent demonstrations? What issues about race in America has it brought up for you and your friends?

  • 3. How do you think we should be actively addressing this issue on campus? Do you think it’s a relevant issue we should be talking about?

  • 4. As a Christian organization we are trying to be a source for healing and restoration on issues of racial strife. What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses Christians bring to the conversation?

Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

Implement a visible action that brings the conversation of justice in a greater way to your campus.

The reason we take action is to embody a concern for those who are oppressed and to show our campuses and communities that issues of systemic oppression are of deep concern to Jesus and his purpose of Shalom in our communities and country.

Purpose: To show your chapter’s commitment to the value of Black lives and increase the dialogue about injustice on your campus.

Steps

Solicit partners who would like to join you in making this statement.

Print t-shirts (white letters on black) that can be worn by your students.

Front:

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Back:

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. JPG on google drive.

Choose a primary sidewalk or building thoroughfare on campus (indoor or outdoor).

Communicate with your campus paper (if appropriate) your intentions and why you are

planning this demonstration. The day after the indictment announcement stand in a silent circle facing out in the middle

of this thoroughfare for 40 minutes and 32 second reflecting the time that Michael Brown’s body lay on the ground after being shot (4 hours 32 minutes). Bring extra shirts to give to students who would like to join you during the demonstration.

Have flyers to give out after your time for your following InterVarsity events (talked about below) or joint events planned.

Be prepared after the time to answer questions. Talking points:

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Our society can give the impression that Black lives are not as valuable as the lives of others.

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We believe that everyone is made in the image of God and their life is of value and

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purpose. We are standing here to demonstrate that we believe in the value of Black life.

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We are also standing here to continue to shine a light on the unjust profiling practices seen in Ferguson but also around the country.

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We are holding a meeting at

to further discuss God’s concern for injustice.

Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

Host a prayer meeting on your campus within the first week of the announcement.

In your prayer gathering you can lament together the systemic racism that continues to assault particularly our black and brown communities.

Lament guide by Scott Bessenecker

Lament is a biblical action. The Psalms are full of lament, as are the writings of the prophets. Jesus gave lament over the brokenness and unbelief of Jerusalem, and he declared a blessing for those who mourn (Matthew 23:37-39, 5:4). James urges those of us who have become rich through our friendship with this world to lament (James 4:9, 5:1-6). Nehemiah lamented the reality of a

destroyed city in the light of God’s promises for restoration (Nehemiah 1:4). We would like to give

you space to lament. Lament the reality of the poor and oppressed in light of God’s promised Shalom. Lament our own hard-heartedness and materialism in a world of need. And lament the effects of evil as they have shown up in your life. But please keep in mind a few guidelines.

Do not force or conjure up lament. Allow it to express itself if a spirit of mourning is present, but do not manufacture it or feel guilty if it is not present.

Do not try to carry a burden you were not meant to carry. Ask a prayer minister or trusted friend if you feel overwhelmed by the plight of those in need or by tragedy in your own life.

Do not be disturbed by someone crying loudly.

By the same token, do not constrain the impulse to lament alongside Christ those things which are lamentable. It may be cathartic to weep with Christ and with those who weep.

Use the lament liturgy created by InterVarsitys Global Urban Trek Leadership Core.

Do the Police Brutality Proxe (instructions can be found in the google drive).

Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet InterVarsity Central Region November 2014 Host a <a href=prayer meeting on your campus within the first week of the announcement. In your prayer gathering you can lament together the systemic racism that continues to assault particularly our black and brown communities. Lament guide by Scott Bessenecker Lament is a biblical action. The Psalms are full of lament, as are the writings of the prophets. Jesus gave lament over the brokenness and unbelief of Jerusalem, and he declared a blessing for those who mourn (Matthew 23:37-39, 5:4). James urges those of us who have become rich through our friendship with this world to lament (James 4:9, 5:1-6). Nehemiah lamented the reality of a destroyed city in the light of God’s promises for restoration (Nehemiah 1:4). We would like to give you space to lament. Lament the reality of the poor and oppressed in light of God’s promised Shalom. Lament our own hard-heartedness and materialism in a world of need. And lament the effects of evil as they have shown up in your life. But please keep in mind a few guidelines.  Do not force or conjure up lament. Allow it to express itself if a spirit of mourning is present, but do not manufacture it or feel guilty if it is not present.  Do not try to carry a burden you were not meant to carry. Ask a prayer minister or trusted friend if you feel overwhelmed by the plight of those in need or by tragedy in your own life.  Do not be disturbed by someone crying loudly.  By the same token, do not constrain the impulse to lament alongside Christ those things which are lamentable. It may be cathartic to weep with Christ and with those who weep. Use the lament liturgy created by InterVarsity ’ s Global Urban Trek Leadership Core. Do the Police Brutality Proxe (instructions can be found in the google drive ) . " id="pdf-obj-4-58" src="pdf-obj-4-58.jpg">

Ferguson Grand Jury Response Packet

InterVarsity Central Region November 2014

Focus your next gathering on this topic within a week or two of the announcement. You can listen to one of the MLK Jr. talks above and engage with the content or use this outline.

Light in the Darkness: Reflections on Isaiah 58:6-10

  • 6 Is not this the fast that I choose:

to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

  • 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

  • 8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,

and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, 10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

  • 1. Our spirituality is tied to our pursuit of justice (they are inextricably tied to one another)

    • a. Isaiah the prophet juxtaposes fasting (an important spiritual discipline) with loosing the bonds of injustice, breaking unfair yokes, covering the naked, sharing your bread, etc.

    • b. In the context of this passage (where the people of God were too narcissistic to see the injustice around them), God was calling them to be outwardly focused and demonstrative about their faith

  • 2. Our ability to be light in our community is tied to our pursuit of justice;

    • a. Light break forth as we pursue justice (8, 10)

    • b. We know we are called to be witnesses in our context, to be missional in our focus one central way to be missional is to be people who embody and pursue justice.

  • 3. Our healing and living out of our salvation is tied to our pursuit of justice

    • a. Our healing springs up quickly (8); the Lord answers our prayers (9)

    • b. God loves us and we love Godwe become more like God and are discipled by God as we

  • pursue justice. The death of Michael Brown is tragic and evil whether or not it was just or unjust because it is

    evidence of the fall of creation and the brokenness of the world. The grand jury process and probable non indictment ruling by the St. Louis County courts is just the latest manifesting of the tragedy of this situation.

    Because of what we know, what we’ve seen, and who God is, we are compelled to respond in a

    way that is congruent with our spirituality, our call to be light, and the living out of our salvation. It is important that the light of God be seen and voice of God’s people be heard for the sake of Michael Brown, for the sake of our community, and for sake of living out our manifest faith.