Cover photo: Pastor Darron Lamonte Edwards speaks at the Clergy Rally on June 3. Photo via video clip Channel 41.
South KC pastor asks clergy for courageous conversations
By Kathy Feist
On Wednesday, June 3, about 75 faith ministers from the Kansas City metropolitan area had gathered at the south steps of the City Hall in Kansas city to make demands for reform within the police force following the death of George Floyd who died at the hands of Minnesota police officers on May 25. The protest was led by Emmanuel Cleaver, III, Senior Pastor at St. James United Methodist Church.
After outlining demands and concerns (see box), Cleaver’s co-organizer Darron Lamonte Edwards, Senior Pastor at United Believers Community Church in south Kansas City, issued a challenge to his fellow clergymen.
“We believe the transforming power of God can affect the heart,” he began. “But we are also here to challenge you to have some courageous conversations.”
Edwards named several talking points for faith ministers to communicate with their congregation. He encouraged them to express:
- The support for the community. “We love Kansas City,” he remarked. “And we love our mayor!” he said to much applause and cheering.
- The injustice of killing unarmed black people. “We need you to be allies,” he said. “When you see injustice, say something about the injustice.”
- That black lives really do matter. “It’s not that we don’t believe in the neighborhood, but it’s my house that’s on fire. I need you to help with my house!”
- A belief in the equality and equity of black people. “Don’t just give us a hand. Give me a box to stand on.”
In a separate conversation with The Telegraph, Rev. Edwards, whose church is located at 5600 E 112 Terrace., reiterated the need for local clergy support.
“I am begging the faith community,” he said. “We can’t get to reconciliation without courageous conversations.”
Most faith denominations, Christian, Catholic, Jewish, etc, have issued statements decrying racial injustice and police brutality following George Floyd’s death.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to these atrocities and yet still try to profess to respect every human life.” – U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
“Racism is sin. It is blasphemy against the God who created each of us in His divine image. We cannot justify or rationalize racism, bigotry, or prejudice in any way.” – Southern Baptist Church
“This disease—the sin of racism and white supremacy—denies the teachings of Jesus and our common, created humanity.” – United Methodist Church
“Let us work in partnership toward eradicating all forms of bigotry and racism and making the United States the “more perfect union” we all pray for it to be.” – Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Rev. Edwards reminds that speaking out is “doing nothing more than what the Gospel preaches us to do.”
“It brings about understanding,” he says.
Rev. Edwards is impressed with the rise of the youth movement throughout the protests.
“These young people already understand everything,” he says. “In 2020 they already knew there was injustice and quickly mobilized. They aren’t having these conversations. It’s our generation, 40 plus, that need to have them. It’s a fundamental difference.”
Edwards also encourages individuals to have a conversation within.
“There is a big change when white people see a black person,” he says. “The first response is fear and threat.”
“But I am here to tell you we are not a threat. We are your brothers in Christ.”
“Let’s deal with that internally and then make a change.”
List of Demands from Clergy:
- The police end any and all forms of excessive force including but not limited to pepper spraying peaceful protesters.
- The establishment of an independent police review board with the authority to act.
- Local control of KCPD
- All officers wear body cameras
- More community programs with KCPD and high crime areas.