Rev. Starsky D. Wilson (@RevStarsky) is President & CEO of Deaconess Foundation, pastor at Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community), ad co-chair of The Ferguson Commission.
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Sometimes a Week is Just a Week
PEOPLE HAVE CALLED me a lot of things: Host pastor of the #BlackLivesMatter freedom ride; student of teenage and Millennial activists; leader of a state commission advocating policy change; bail negotiator; street agitator; and militant mediator. Since the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the streets of Ferguson, Mo., and St. Louis in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, I’ve been called and challenged to play these roles—and more.
Yes, I did say the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that fell at Pentecost as a dynamic demonstration of God’s power to overcome the barriers of language, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual orientation. The Spirit of hope that caused a community once rebuked for its broken dialect to speak with one voice. The Spirit of holiness that enabled a people dismissed for “drunkenness” (see Acts 2:15) to form the first fruits of the church.
We may have missed it because those the Spirit fell on nearly a year ago weren’t wearing robes and stoles, but hoodies and bandanas. They weren’t singing anthems and hymns, but chanting what some would call obscenities. They weren’t called saints and disciples by the media, but thugs and outside agitators.
But last summer, in the week between Michael Brown’s death on Aug. 9 and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s declaration of a state of emergency on Aug. 16, the Spirit was poured upon “all flesh” and our sons and daughters began to prophesy.
Pentecost and the Power for [Socioeconomic] Reconciliation
Socioeconomic reconciliation is the removal of gaps in opportunity, achievement, health, thriving, and well-being that exist between groups of people in our nation and world. In the face of myriad breaches of the common human bond and experience, a breakthrough act of the Spirit today would activate and agitate the established church in her ministry: a ministry of socioeconomic reconciliation.
The ministry of socioeconomic reconciliation will require a church empowered with tongues of fire and the gift of interpretation. These tongues must speak with a prophetic voice. But we must also have the heart and capacity to translate the words of marginalized communities into the language of policy, power, and program. That is why I thank God for the compelling, confusing roles I’ve been called into over the last nine months. This form of reconciliation requires the church to fulfill of the vocation of the militant mediator, which offers as much renewal in the streets and city hall as we experience in the sanctuary.