Ferguson and Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community
Foreword by Jim Wallis
Recommended in Religion News Service's 2015 Gift Suggestions
The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests. Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them. The shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, reignited a long-smoldering movement for justice, with many St. Louis-area clergy stepping up to support the emerging young leaders of today’s Civil Rights Movement. Seminary professor Leah Gunning Francis was among the activists, and her interviews with more than two dozen faith leaders and with the new movement’s organizers take us behind the scenes of the continuing protests. Ferguson and Faith demonstrates that being called to lead a faithful life can take us to places we never expected to go, with people who never expected us to join hands with them.
Ferguson and Faith is the first book from the partnership of the Forum for Theological Exploration (FTE) and Chalice Press.
From the Foreword by Jim Wallis:
"Leah Gunning Francis’s conversations with both the clergy and the young activists show how important it is for communities of faith to reach out to a new generation of young leaders and help elevate and nurture their gifts. What many of the clergy interviewed in this book realized in the course of the Ferguson protests was that rather than sitting back in their sanctuaries and waiting for the young people to seek out the church for guidance or leadership, it was the church that needed to go out and meet the young people where they were, joining them shoulder to shoulder, on the streets, in the struggle for justice."
Part of the FTE (Forum for Theological Exploration) Series
“.....Ferguson and Faith is a firsthand account of one of the most important currents in U.S. society right now, an informal handbook for clergy who want to take action, and a powerful antidote to mainstream media stories and images that continue to ignore the commitment, intelligence, strategy, and integrity of the young people organizing for long-denied justice.”―Julie Polter, "The Hide-and-Seek of Faith: New Books pursue big questions and elusive answers," Sojourners, November 2015
"Leah Gunning Francis, a seminary professor, activist, and mother of two African-American sons, brings passion to this compelling volume of stories gathered from clergy and young activists on the street in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s murder. The stories will break your heart, inspire you, and motivate you to become involved in the burgeoning new civil rights movement."―Sharon G. Thornton, "Take and Read," The Christian Century, October 9, 2015
“This is a very important book. Leah Gunning Francis has penned a theological memoir of a movement. It is an invitation to see the spirituality at the heart of this movement. And it is an invitation to get into the streets ... since we don't just change the world with our heads, but with our hands and feet and sweat and tears. One of the most important things this book does is celebrate a new generation of activists and faith-rooted organizers, without forgetting the freedom-fighters of old. This is not your granny's revolution. A fresh, new, holy uprising is happening if we will only have eyes to see and ears to hear — and the courage to join them in the streets.” ―Shane Claiborne, author, activist, speaker
"Through the curation of poignant testimonies and reflections from local Ferguson clergy and activists, Dr. Gunning Francis has created a pathway for the construction of practical theologies that will inform and shape the prophetic leadership of preachers, pastors, and faith-based organizers in the ongoing struggle for freedom, justice, and peace in our communities." ―Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, Director of Clergy Organizing, PICO National Network
"This book is a powerful collection of stories of clergy and young activists who were visible and vocal in the struggle for racial justice in Ferguson. They embodied the best of the human spirit that resonated with many around the globe, and challenged this nation to live up to its ideal of liberty and justice for all." ―Emanuel Cleaver, U.S. Representative (Missouri)
"While the Church often overplays its role in the Civil Rights Movement, its contributions to that freedom struggle have nevertheless been tangible and transformative. How will the faith community be remembered for its response to the Black Lives Matter movement that is aggressive and sometimes profane, non-hierarchical, and wary of organized religion? Rooted in St. Louis, Leah Gunning Francis effectively weaves together profiles of local Christian and Jewish leaders who, inspired by the Ferguson moment, are working to creatively disrupt white supremacy in their religious institutions and the wider society." ―Ethan Vesely-Flad, Director of National Organizing, Fellowship of Reconciliation
"... Dr. Gunning Francis helps clergy persons answer the question: How must I live my faith when injustice brings tragedy to the community. This book is required reading for clergy persons serving in congregations and social agencies regardless of their social location, as well as required reading for seminary students preparing for leadership in faith-based communities. Lastly, this book is essential reading for all those seeking to weave together a spiritual, political, and social life that is sacred and consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” ―Evelyn Parker, Perkins School of Theology
"Words ― hard words, blunt words, truthful words, empowering words ― Words of God. Leah Gunning Francis enlivens sacred stories of religious leaders ― old and young ― as they confront 'systemic evil.' Using the best of qualitative research and practical theology, Dr. Gunning Francis records the words faithful people use to connect the 'resources' of faith traditions, personal skills, and passionate hearts into actions. The clues we encounter call us to search, to live, and to enflesh the 'words of God.'" ―Jack Seymour, professor at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and editor of Religious Education
"Their work was a work of justice. This volume is a work of justice too, as it allows us to hear the voices of both the young activists and the clergy who were on the streets of Ferguson during those stressful weeks and months. The ecclesiology that emerges from these testimonies is compelling. This is a must-read for all leaders of faith communities. In addition, this is a model for the power of qualitative research to change the narrative. Because Leah Gunning Francis has allowed the voices of these leaders to speak through her pages, we have a completely different picture of what was happening in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Her work allows us to hear and see the vocation of the church, of the clergy, and of all children on God.” ― Margaret Ann Crain, author of The United Methodist Deacon and co-author of Yearning for God