The Ecumenical Leadership Council recently met with U. S. Sen. Roy Blunt to discuss community empowerment, relationship building, and the aftermath of the crisis in Ferguson. The meeting was held in the Clayton offices of DDC Advertising & Public Relations, Inc., with follow-up meetings being scheduled later in the year to build on the decisions developed from the first meeting.
Bishop Lawrence M. Wooten, president of the Ecumenical Leadership Council, and Rev. Douglas Parham, vice president, both agreed that the meeting between the council and the senator was useful and productive.
Bishop Wooten said, "No matter how African Americans voted, Republican Sen. Blunt and Democratic Sen. McCaskill represent our interests, as well as the interests of all Missouri taxpayers and citizens in Washington, D.C. Therefore, we believe it is important to develop productive relationships with senators from both political parties. This meeting is just the first step."
The Ecumenical Leadership Council represents approximately 177 predominantly African American churches located throughout St. Louis and St. Louis County.
NCCU addresses police issues
Since the Ferguson unrest, North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice (NCCU) – which consists of 22 churches of various denominations working to promote racial understanding and social justice within North County – has held two general meetings that included a number of mayors, police officials, clergy and others, discussing ways to improve the situation between the races, especially between the police and the African-American community.
NCCU also held a breakfast between approximately 60 police officials and clergy, to further this discussion and identify meaningful ways to work together to improve this situation. Out of the meetings and discussions, it formed a Discussion and Solutions Committee to work on specific ways to make these improvements. All of these meetings and discussions have been interracial and diversified.
The Discussion and Solutions Committee consists of Clayton Police Chief Kevin Murphy, Florissant Police Chief Timothy Lowery, Hazelwood Police Chief Gregg Hall, Captain Norman Mann (commander of the St. Louis County Police Department’s North County Precinct), Pastor John Higgins, Pastor Michael Krewson, Pastor Marvin Shelton, Donald Morice (retired member of Bellerive Acres board), Wesley Bell (Criminal Justice coordinator of St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley), and Barbara Thompson and Rance Thomas of NCCU.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar has been an active participant.
“Some agreements that we have made are work to change the demographics or ways to recruit more African-American police officers and to increase the contact between the police and the African-American community by creating opportunities for police officials to visit churches, schools, and small businesses to talk with members and customers,” said Rance Thomas, president of NCCU.
“Also, pastors have agreed to invite police to their churches to talk with their members and friends. In addition, we will encourage police officials to attend more community events and engage in more community activities. This is very important because the more favorable contact young people have with the police, the more likely this favorable experience will last.”
In order to begin the process of police officers and officials making visits to churches, the Rev. Michael Krewson, pastor of Church of the Master UCC, will be coordinating this program.
For further information about NCCU, contact Rance Thomas at RThomas257@aol.com.