ABSW Stands With Ferguson

Dear Friends of American Baptist Seminary of the West:

ABSW stands in solidarity with Ferguson, MO: The Faculty, Administration, Staff, and a majority of the Board of Trustees of American Baptist Seminary of the West, a member school of the Graduate Theological Union, are compelled by conscience to concur with the following statement from the Racial Justice and Multiculturalism Community of the Alliance of Baptists.

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, we witnessed yet another unarmed Black teenager killed by police in a U.S. city. We are outraged by Michael Brown’s death: the slaying of another innocent beloved of God. Beyond Brown’s death, the events following in Ferguson, Mo., have revealed a panoply of problems that threaten the lives and well-being of multitudes of African Americans in this country and call our democratic commitments into question. Brown’s death refuels our anger over the ongoing institutionalized racism and injustice that Black citizens face at all levels of the justice system.

There remains a sickness at the heart of our national soul. Thus, there is a great need for the American Baptist Seminary of the West to strengthen its commitment to prepare leaders who are able to address this sickness in ways consistent with the mandates of the gospel, the leading of the Spirit and the values of the faith traditions represented in our family. It is our intent to stand in solidarity with those who advocate for justice in oppressed and disenfranchised communities in the following ways: peaceful assembly to demonstrate and protest against the racism and injustice that prevails in society; support of those efforts to bring to justice those who commit murder and mayhem in our culture; and to stand with those who continually pray for peace to prevail in our land. We will pray, and when the time comes to get up from our knees and act, we will do that too.

Our Savior taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We remain committed to raising up leaders for whom this prayer is an active pursuit rather than an empty platitude. We remain committed to raising up leaders who can both describe the profound justice at the heart of the Reign of God and deliver programs and policies which embody this justice.

Paul Martin
President/CEO, ABSW

H. James Hopkins
Chair, ABSW Board of Trustees

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One thought on “ABSW Stands With Ferguson

  1. Your August 28 statement on the Ferguson incident is a hasty and very one-sided rush to a conclusion when so many of the objective facts are not in. Only now are we beginning to hear the officer’s account (New York Times, Oct. 17). Much more needs to be examined before a preponderance of the evidence points a certain way.

    We are told in Proverbs 18:17 that the first to present a cause seems just, before his neighbor comes to cross-examine him. So it is in this case.

    You highlight the biblical concept of justice but leave out the biblical duty of the secular magistrate to preserve peace and public order. I fear that much of the call for “justice” has already predetermined what the exact contours of this “justice” must be.

    While Mr. Brown was “unarmed”, we don’t know what took place that caused the officer to use deadly force (either appropriately or wrongly). Mr. Brown, a large young man, had just prior to this encounter revealed a ready propensity toward aggression in the strong-armed robbery he committed. I strongly condemn any police tactics that were outside of law enforcement policy, and I believe the loss of this life was a tragedy.

    I do believe that police departments should (1) rid themselves of equipment more appropriate for the national guard than local law enforcement agencies and (2) equip officers with on-body cameras (at the very least, audio recorders) and equip all patrol cars with cameras.

    Donald P. Shoemaker
    ABSW Alumnus (D.Min., 1975)

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