August 21, 2014

After Ferguson, churches must confess the sin of abandonment (COMMENTARY)

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Carl W. Kenney II is an adjunct instructor in the journalism department at the University of Missouri. He holds a divinity degree from Duke University and has pastored several churches. Photo courtesy of Carl Kenney

Carl W. Kenney II is an adjunct instructor in the journalism department at the University of Missouri. He holds a divinity degree from Duke University and has pastored several churches. Photo courtesy of Carl Kenney

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(RNS) As easy as it is to drive away, change happens when we stay.

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  • Sister Geraldine Marie, R.N.

    Too many churches are clubs, not churches! Most people go to church not to worship the Lord and help their neighbors, but to feel good about themselves and how that will get them to Heaven. The people who get to Heaven are those who feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick and lonely, etc. Read the Gospels and obey The Lord!

  • Theophilus

    We’re sorry, Ferguson, that we didn’t teach you that looting and rioting is not an acceptable way to express yourself.

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  • Adrainne

    Prof. Kenney,
    You have described my own internal tensions as an African-American seminarian and the one called to preach and speak to mostly Euro-American congregations (and a few well-to-do African-American congregations, too). In the commentary you asked if the exposure to historical pain ever goes away? I think, not. As a matter of fact, I have come to embrace this exposure as a gift to those of us who are jarred into our blackness periodically. It is this exposure that will aid Christ in bringing the church to solidarity with the abandoned. Ultimately, we all need to be exposed (fill in any ethnicity here_____) so that we do not forget that God’s will must be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thank you for composing my struggle, of which is also my gift.

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  • Another exercise in self-dramatization. Shut up.

    It began when white residents left due to the rise in black population.

    The township’s population has been on a downward trajectory for forty-odd years. It antedated the demographic shift in the last twenty-five years and has been slower during that time than it was during the 1970s.

    That aside, people leave for all the reasons people have to sell their homes. Owner-occupied housing turns over about every eleven years, typically. It has been characteristic of Ferguson that there are more blacks in the incoming than the outgoing population, something that has been true for a generation. The succession of ethnic groups in neighborhoods is nothing unusual and nothing particularly unsalutary. One needs only be concerned that it is not temporally correlated with declines in the quality of life that might be readily addressed by authorities (and it really has not been in Ferguson – up till now).

    Now let us posit something that this blowhard fancies he knows: that white residents of Ferguson left due to friction with their neighbors. There are all kinds of reasons people may dislike you, and dissimilar manners is one of them. That’s just life in ‘diverse’ communities, and most people are not willing to continue to live in irritating and uncongenial circumstances in service to some fuzzy obligation dreamed up by an out-of-town pastor. If you want people to sacrifice for something, make it a hill worth taking a stand on.

  • You don’t need to be ‘in solidarity with the abandoned’. Just persuading people in your congregation to undertake regular prayer and meditation and lay off the fornicating and discretionary divorce suits is challenging enough (and actually useful).

  • Oh but the ‘pain’ (for which the analgesic is evidently a purloined flat-screen TV).

  • What sort of ‘change’ does this man have in mind?

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Carl W. Kenney,
    To a hammer everything looks like a nail. Since your interests appear to be in churches, and in being black, naturally you interpret events through that lens.
    “Is it possible to preach to those who haven’t lived that experience?”
    If that is the litmus test, then you need to find another profession. The glory days of civil rights marches are history. Asian, Hispanic, Arab, and so on are the outsiders today. What do you have to say to them?

  • Affluent Oriental and East Indian professionals are ‘outsiders’?

  • Star

    Had it not been for the civil rights movement , the Asian, Hispanic, the
    Arab and others would not have any rights. Since you are against the blacks, stop putting your stores in black neighborhoods, go and put them in the White neighborhoods. You now why, you can’t, because they think you are trash just like they think we are. You came over here own your own accord, New Flash, they want you gone.GO BACK!

  • Had it not been for the civil rights movement , the Asian, Hispanic, the
    Arab and others would not have any rights

    Rubbish. Where do you get this historical tripe? The penal courts and electoral registrars in the Southern United States were badly corrupted. That applied to the resident black population (who could still own property and contract even in Mississippi), not these other categories. It did not apply to these other segments, who faced no more disability than any recent immigrant group. While we are at it, it is an anachronism to refer to ‘hispanics’ in remarking on the period prior to 1970.

  • Since you are against the blacks, stop putting your stores in black neighborhoods, go and put them in the White neighborhoods. You now why, you can’t, because they think you are trash just like they think we are. You came over here own your own accord, New Flash, they want you gone.GO BACK!

    Why not make a concerted effort in the future to be coherent?

  • Sundown

    Shorter Theophilus: Disagreeing with police is EXACTLY the same as rioting!!!