July 13, 2016

Recent Shootings Prompt Youth Town Hall

On Friday, July 8 several hundred Merge students came together to worship and participate in a Town Hall concerning the series of recent deaths: both civilian and police.

Facilitated by youth pastor Reverend Jonathan Queen, its purpose was to provide a safe space for youth to discuss feelings about the losses, what it is like to be considered a “threat” based on difference in pigmentation and thoughts on how to produce positive change in America during these crises.

Reverend Queen called everyone to put God first, stating “I can speak on perspective change – from running from the police and considering them my enemies to training with them and partnering with them. [I’m] grateful for God sparing my life to be able to help invoke change and speak the Word. The word of God is designed to bring about peace and justice.”

In small groups, youth were asked to discuss topics. Each student was then invited to voice their concerns before the Town Hall population.

Merge member Kyra W. said that though she never encountered the police, from news and social media, she has a reason to be fearful.

“I am [fearful], but I trust God. I trust God in a way that supersedes my fears as a black man,” Reverend Queen said.

A collective prayer for those lives that were lost, the state of our country, and for the morale and well-being of one another ended the night.

Merge’s youth recap writer Karis B. concluded the event best by writing, “We hope you all left the building with a feeling of hope and love.”

Written by Bria “Charlei” Baylor, Marketing & Public Relations Department SYEP

Please click on the below Merge event photos to enlarge.  Photos courtesy of FBCG Photography Ministry.