We continue our reflection on God’s call to us through the ELCA’s “60-Day Journey Toward Justice in a Culture of Gun Violence.”
DAY 20: Ministry of Presence
From “Ministry of Presence in Baton Rouge,” an ELCA blog post by Judith Roberts reflecting on the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016: We believed that as a church sent for the sake of the world—the ministry of presence is about showing up in the community. Presence is also about accompaniment; we came to listen to voices and stories from the community. The third step is to discern where and how God is calling the church to respond.
(Former) Domestic Mission Unit Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Stephen Bouman knows about the need for the church to respond. Bouman served as Bishop of Metro N.Y synod during the attacks on the World Trade Center. “I learned the importance of the ministry of presence after the towers fell in New York. Two things happen by instinct. We wanted to pray and ritualize. We didn’t want to be alone. To have caring human beings show up and share the heat of the day is a deep spiritual gift. Incarnation means the real God takes on real flesh in the real world. The message of presence is that God is there. The message of persistent presence is that God will not leave until healing begins,” said Bouman.