It would be nice if a review on a book about the events in Ferguson Missouri, which unfolded over a year ago, would be not be needed. Sadly, it is obvious that the events of Ferguson were not exceptional events. In America today, there is a great need for changes in how we see the value of life. It seems like it is just a matter of time before events like those that occurred in Ferguson, will be affecting our communities. The book Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership & Awakening Community by Leah Gunning gives great insight to the protests and protesters surrounding the events of Ferguson Missouri over the past year. Leah Gunning Francis invites us into the conversation between faith leaders and activists on what the church’s role should be in situations like these.
Throughout her book, Gunning Francis interviews people involved in the protest in Ferguson. The interviewees are average protesters, activist leaders, and clergy members involved with the protest. The book acts like a long conversation about the role of clergy and the Church in the events surrounding Ferguson, MO. We hear conversations from clergy and activist leaders on how the church can and should get involved, and we enter into that conversation as we read. It is clear that most, if not all, the church leaders and activists interviewed feel that the church needs to be involved in calling out systemic racism in America. Many of the church leaders express the opinion that it is not for the church to lead these demonstrations, but support the activists. This is a big difference from the Civil Rights Movement where the church was a key leader. Instead of leading demonstrations, the church should organize press conferences and question and answer sessions. The church becomes a mediator between the police and protesters. The younger activists do not want the clergy to lead, but they do appreciate their support and moral guidance.
Gunning Francis does not use much of her own writing to support the views held by the clergy or the activists. Instead, Gunning Francis is officiating the discussion between these two groups. This is helpful, because then we can understand how the people who really experienced this movement justified their actions. Without any commentary from Gunning Francis, we are left to ponder ourselves what is the best course of action for the church in these events. Should the church be at the forefront of social justice in America? Or if the church leads the fight, does that alienate people of other traditions? Instead of answering questions like these, Gunning Francis instead invites us to join the discussion.