The grand jury decision related to the shooting death of Michael Brown has been officially released. Officer Darren Wilson has been acquitted of all charges in the case.
After the decision was announced people responded in ways that many of us feared.
The lasting images that were captured by the media and broadcast throughout the world were of people causing destruction in communities that have already experienced enough loss.
The looters made it hard for the people that were there to legitimately protest to be heard.
In the coming days, these communities that have lost so much will need help from people as they seek to rebuild and restore what has been taken from them.
They will need help from people that seek to add life and hope to their communities in practical, tangible ways.
In the coming days, we all have the opportunity to respond to the needs of these communities.
In prior articles, I gave practical suggestions for how people who want to help can bring resources and energy to Ferguson and the other areas that have been negatively affected. These articles are available here, here and here.
We all can give funds and practical resources to organizations that serve the needs of the community.
Local organizations, such as iheartnorthcounty, are able to direct funds and resources to people and groups that can best use and disperse them and make sure that the needs of people are genuinely met.
In addition to resources, we have the opportunity to give leadership that provides light and hope where we so far have only found darkness.
As the dust begins to settle from the announced verdict, people on both sides of the issue will likely be looking for a voice or a person that speaks to them and the feelings that they have about all that has led up to this moment.
Many will likely come forward to the Ferguson community and the world to present themselves as leaders of the people who feel disaffected by the verdict.
How will the community and the world vet these supposed leaders and their message in light of the delicate relationships that are at stake?
Amid corporate fear and personal struggle to do the right thing, I offer my hopes for the types of leaders that will arise during this time.
I hope for leadership that is not all-knowing. We need leadership that recognizes that as individuals we do not have the answer to every question.
I hope for leadership that is not individualistic. Everyone benefits from leadership that is not focused on personal agendas or personal desires to increase individual profiles.
I hope for leadership that is not opportunistic and “me” centered. Leadership is not a photo opportunity but is a service opportunity.
Instead, I hope for leadership that will seek the greater good of the entire community and not a singular people group.
I hope for leadership that will be collaborative and seek the input and opinion of people outside their own particular group in order to reach the overall goal of benefiting the entire community and moving us all into a positive direction of justice and truth.
I hope for leadership that will be other-centered and not self-centered.
I hope for leadership that will seek to find peace instead of giving in to anger, hate or fear so that one group gets its way.
I not only hope for these things, but I also offer myself as a willing participant and I challenge all who read this to do the same. In the name of justice, peace and reconciliation.
Terrell Carter is minister of administration at Third Baptist Church in St. Louis and director of the Foundations in Ministry program for Central Baptist Theological Seminary in St. Louis.
A pastor, author and educator living in St. Louis, Missouri, he is the author of several books, including The Gospel According to Broadway and Taking Apart Bootstrap Theology: Gospel of Generosity and Justice.