Ferguson to be Site of Summer Outreach Event
Local Assemblies of God, Church of God, and other churches in the Ferguson area are coming together this spring in an effort to provide a summer ministry event for the city.
However, unlike many events that have occurred in Ferguson over the last several months, the focus isn't on using Ferguson as a platform, but rather on ministering to the needs of the community - from providing groceries and assistance in finding employment to demonstrating racial unity and concern.
Ferguson, which has become nationally known for the unrest and riots that occurred this past year when a white police officer shot an unarmed black man. Following an investigation, a grand jury chose to not indict the officer. The community is in need of healing as tensions still run high.
Brian Schmidgall, an AG executive presbyter and pastor of Middletree Church, is helping to organize the event in coordination with Dr. Lee Scott, lead pastor of Lively Stone Church, a part of the Church of God, and in cooperation with Greater Grace (Church of God) Church.
This isn't the first time for Scott and Schmidgall to work together. The two became friends when they were both a part of the leadership team that hosted a 2012 outreach in St. Louis. And this January, the two gave a presentation at Evangel University (Springfield, Missouri) regarding race relations.
Scott says that the focus for this outreach is to bring unity - a coming together - and demonstrate sharing and caring for one another. "We're partnering and setting up a coalition of nine churches, mainly out of Ferguson, to put on this event," he says. "We're also working with other agencies in the community to provide relief for the people of Ferguson."
"We believe it is very important for us to buttress the local church and point people to the local church," Schmidgall says. "I hold the conviction that the local church body is going to be the healing agent for Ferguson."
Schmidgall explains that the outreach was strategically chosen to be held two weeks prior to the anniversary of the death of Brown. "It is important for the community to see the Kingdom coming together, black and white," he says. "We can't expect healing in the world if it's not happening in the church."
"God is the center of our peace," Scott says. "One of the things we can do is come together, show the love of Christ to everyone, and be family."
"My prayer," Schmidgall says, "is that through this event, the community will derive hope by seeing how Christ has brought racially different people together. That they will know, as Scripture says, that we are Christians by our love for one another and that there is hope here, racially, working side by side."