Leading Ferguson's Faithful Through Turmoil And Beyond

As things calm down after dramatic weeks in Ferguson, Mo., Rev. Carlton Lee will address his congregation in St. Louis. He talks with NPR's Linda Wertheimer about how the city can begin to heal.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The Reverend Carlton Lee is pastor of The Flood Christian Church in St. Louis. I spoke with him about how his city can move forward from the events of the past few weeks. And I began by asking him what Bible passage he will take as the text for his sermon this Sunday morning.

REVEREND CARLTON LEE: I'm actually going to be preaching out of Numbers, the 14 Chapter, I think around the 8th verse. And the title of my message this week is going to be "Why Am I Still Here?"

WERTHEIMER: Who is the I in there?

LEE: It really is just a personal thing, not just particularly for me, but for everyone. Why are we still dealing with injustice? Why are we still yet dealing with where we can't get along? Why are we dealing with black on black crime? Why are we dealing with impoverished neighborhood? Why aren't we doing what we should do to come out of that mindset? So when I asked the question as to why am I, that I is particularly for that person. And it fits whatever corridor of life they're in.

WERTHEIMER: Am I right that that chapter deals with a lot of discontent on the part of the Israelite's unrest in the community, I guess?

LEE: Absolutely.

WERTHEIMER: Do you think Ferguson is ready or almost ready, perhaps, to move forward from Michael Brown's death?

LEE: Absolutely not because, unfortunately, this has been a brew that has been going on for a while. And so they're not ready to come out of this situation. They're not ready to leave it alone. They are ready to confront this issue. This is more so, as I've been calling it the less couple of days here, the new Civil Rights Movement. It's not just necessarily a race thing. It is more of an injustice thing. It has no color. One of the things that we're doing is we are reaching across denomination lines, cultural lines, color lines, gender lines. We are reaching across and we're reaching out to all of our brothers and sisters that are standing for justice. And we're coming together collectively.

WERTHEIMER: The next big event to come in which everybody will be thinking about what's going to happen is Michael Brown's funeral. I assume that you all have been making extensive plans for that.

LEE: There are tons of plans that are in place because we've heard that several extremist groups were coming to protest at the funeral. So there's plans in place to make sure that the crowd remains calm, to make sure that nobody is being harassed and it's a very peaceful ceremony for him.

WERTHEIMER: So your hope is that it should be a quiet, religious ceremony for this young man?

LEE: I have without a shadow of a doubt in my mind believe that it is going to happen that way. It will be very peaceful. He will be laid to rest. His family will be able to mourn. And they will have the community there to mourn. And I believe the nation, as a whole, will begin to mourn the death of another innocent, not just black man, but another innocent young man.

WERTHEIMER: Reverend Carlton Lee is pastor of The Flood Christian Church in St. Louis. Reverend Lee, thank you very much for joining us today.

LEE: Thank you so much for having me.

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