From the Bishop of Ferguson

In the aftermath of the announcement of the decision of the grand jury not to indict the police officer in the death of Michael Brown, many of you have been asking how we might offer support. Bishop Roger Gustafson of the Central States Synod of the ELCA, wrote today:

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been a busy couple of days, but I wanted to update you on the happenings in Ferguson and the rest of metro St. Louis. As you know, there was a large spasm of violence last night after the grand jury’s decision was announced. As I walked the streets of Ferguson this afternoon it was clear that business people are getting ready for more of the same – lots of windows being boarded up, merchandise being moved to the backs of stores, etc. There’s a rumor that the Chicago chapter of the New Black Panther Party is in town, along with members of the KKK. If those boys decide to tangle, it could be a nasty night.

Our congregation in Ferguson, Zion, is two blocks from a main street downtown. Pastor Rick Brenton had the church open through the night for whomever wanted to come in for prayer and conversation. Yesterday I met Scott Megwer, a local businessman and member of the Governor’s Commission. He’s exactly the sort of person that commission and this city needs: eager to listen, eager to build a way forward, fully aware that this is a long-term project that’s going to require a lot of patience and persistence. 

I met this morning with an African American woman who is completely heartsick over the many dimensions of the tragic aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. The police and National Guard who were obviously more present in some areas of the city than in others, the businesses that were allowed to burn, the looting that was allowed to happen, the mistaken public perception of the violence that “they’re doing it to themselves” – in her perspective it’s all an illustration of the bad drama that characterizes the black experience. Her name is Janis. Please remember her tonight; I’d like to be able to tell her that the congregations of the New England Synod are praying for her, personally.

Speaking of prayer, I’d invite yours as well: for wisdom to know the way forward, and for courage to step out.


Roger Gustafson
Central States Synod | Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

As a partner in the Gospel of Jesus Christ I encourage all of us to remember the people of Ferguson, in particular Janis, Pastor Rick Brenton, Mr. Scott Megwer and Bishop Roger Gustafson.

Bishop James Hazelwood 
New England Synod