The Slingshot from the Religion News Service carries a story from the Baltimore Sun about yesterday’s funeral of Freddie Gray and the protests and unrest that followed later in the day. A state of emergency was declared for the city, and a curfew put in place.
The Sun reports that religious leaders have answered the call to be voices of calm in the chaos:
Church leaders took to the streets to intervene in the violence, to call for calm and pray for peace. Later Monday, more than 75 ministers met with gang members — Bloods and Crips — and representatives of the Nation of Islam leaders to talk about ways to end the violence.
Freddie Gray’s death in police custody and the questions that surround his fatal injuries have been connected to those of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and others by the hashtag movement, #BlackLivesMatter. Religion Link carries background and links to developments in the social movement.
#Black Lives Matter describes itself not as an organization but as a social movement. Its website has served as a kind of clearinghouse for information about protests, meetings, rallies and other events relevant to civil rights for people of color. It was founded after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and has grown post-Ferguson. In October 2014, the site issued a “call to clergy” to preach about injustice and black lives from the pulpit. …
Now, #BlackLivesMatter ideology — that black lives are devalued by a broader, unjust society — is making its way into churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship, just as the ideology of the civil rights movement did in the 1960s.
Faith leaders in central Maryland issued a statement last week offering prayers and calling for peaceful discernment of the way forward for the city for Baltimore:
We appeal to the members of our faith communities and to all citizens of good will to remain calm and to express their anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways, allowing the various investigations now underway to proceed so that all of us will soon have the answers we seek.
Early in the day yesterday, the Catholic Archbishop of Maryland also issued a call to prayer:
As we await the truth, today I ask the faithful of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and all people of good will to join me in praying for the Gray family and for all families devastated by the untimely death of a child of God. Let us pray together for the people of our community, for those in law enforcement who approach their job with dignity and honesty and goodness, and for those investigating Freddie’s death, that their investigations will be swift, thorough, open, and honest, and that it will help our community to find ways to address systemic issues. May we unite in prayer for immediate and lasting healing, especially between members of our community and law enforcement, brought about by dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. We pray that following today’s funeral and in the days to come, protesters will voice their views freely and openly but without violence, which only deepens and prolongs injustice. And finally, may we pray together that God will grace us always with His presence, so that our broken City can once again be whole and that our minds and our hearts will be open to peace and love.
The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has responded with prayer vigils and and an open forum scheduled through today at the Cathedral of the Incarnation.
Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a Facebook post earlier today, “Pray for Baltimore. Violence is not the answer, ever.” With that in mind, please join with others in the diocese on Tuesday, April 28, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Baltimore:
11:30 am-12 noon: Centering Prayer, Peace Chapel. Join Bishop Sutton in contemplative prayer.
12:15-1 pm: Tuesday Eucharist
1-2 pm: Open forum discussion on the current situation in the city.
2-6 pm: Prayer Vigil, the Cathedral will be open for prayer, reflection and solace throughout the afternoon.
At 6 pm Bishop Sutton will represent the diocese at an interfaith gathering being planned in Baltimore.
Picture credit: Cathedral of the Incarnation. Posted by Rosalind Hughes