Mercy Junction, along with St. Marks United Methodist and Renaissance Presbyterian churches, will hold a candlelight vigil and prayer service on Monday evening, following the funeral of the Missouri teenager who was killed by police on Aug. 9. The Chattanooga vigil is part of a nationally coordinated action with events taking place in cities across the United States. The vigil and prayer service will be on the Walnut Street Bridge, beginning at 8 p.m. Mercy Junction invites other faith communities to join in hosting the event.
The Walnut Street Bridge was chosen as the location for the prayer vigil because of its direct ties to Chattanooga's own tragic race history. In 1906, Ed Johnson, a young black man, was murdered by a lynch mob on the bridge despite a stay of execution issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Missouri, a public funeral will be held for 18-year-old Michael Brown, on Monday.
Protests have continued in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson since police shot the unarmed black teenager nearly two weeks ago.
The demonstrators have been met with a militarized police force that has turned rubber bullets and tear gas on the people. Along with abuses to protesters, police have arrested, detained and targeted journalists and human rights workers, and raided a church that was offering safe space to organizers and activists.
The police response resulted in Amnesty International deploying a human rights team to Ferguson, ?the first time the organization has ever made such a deployment within the United States; and, has even resulted in Egypt calling on authorities to use restraint in responding to the protests.
The results of an independent autopsy showed that Brown was shot at least six times, all shots were fired from the front and one shot was to the top of his skull.
The Rev. Brian Merritt, founder and evangelist at Mercy Junction, traveled to Ferguson last week, after the Rev. Landon Whitsitt, executive and stated clerk of the Synod of Mid-America issued a call “on the members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA), over 90 percent of whom are white, to stand with the people of Ferguson and 'witness against and strive against' systemic, institutionalized racial injustice.”
Rev. Merritt will talk about his time in Ferguson at Monday night's event. This will be followed by prayers and the lighting of candles.
Faith communities who wish to join as hosts can contact Mercy Junction Social Justice Coordinator Beth Foster at 423-457-2519 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Names of other faith communities joining will be added to the event on Mercy Junction's page at facebook.com/MercyJunction.