Healing a City in Crisis

Media coverage in the days following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody painted a picture of Baltimore as a city in the midst of civil disarray and total destruction. The reality was that during the riots hundreds of people, including clergy of many denominations, were on the streets urging calm, standing between police and demonstrators and trying to negotiate a peace.

As people of faith, members of the Presbytery of Baltimore knew that we had to act if we were going to fulfill Jesus’ command to care for the least of His children. Using our dedicated Clergy Community Facebook page, we alerted local pastors to an urgent meeting.  By the next afternoon more than 30 pastors showed up — nearly half of our Teaching Elders!  Our first step was to do as Christ did — pray.  It was important to us to be in the neighborhood and out of our pews.  Guided by our urban churches, part of the In The Loop Ministry Group, more than 100 Presbyterians from throughout the Presbytery of Baltimore gathered to sing and pray together in a field adjacent to Trinity Presbytery Church in West Baltimore.

In the weeks since the Baltimore riots our church members have looked to the Presbytery’s Commission on Reconciliation, which is funded by Our Shared Ministry to discern how best to move forward to heal our city – still in crisis.  The problems in Baltimore are no different than the problems in urban cities elsewhere; and, we are committed long-term to a multi-layered, multi-faceted search for truth and justice. We must begin the process now of discerning who and where those who suffer are in our communities and reach out to them in a sincere, long-term effort to know them, understand them and join with them to better all our lives. 

I believe God will judge us based on how we respond to the cries of those who live every day in the strait jackets of poverty, injustice and oppression.  We do not know what will happen next, but we have faith that the Holy Spirit will lead us.

James Parks, Moderator