Three weeks ago, 14 youth and 7 adults from 5 Charlotte Episcopal Churches drove to Ferguson, Missouri for our Racial Reconciliation Mission Trip. An extraordinary opportunity to serve, learn, worship, work, and play, which included engaging in serious dialogue between black and white youth from Charlotte and Ferguson. Here are reflections on the trip from two of our youth, Sam Morgan (rising 11th grader) and Max Reid (rising 9th grader).
Our high school youth mission trip to Ferguson was really a once in a lifetime experience for all who went. Our world is extremely troubled, and all this hate clouds our vision to find Christ in one another. I felt the trip reopened my eyes to see that some of current societal systems are ailing. I propose that through dialogue and accepting differing perspectives from our own, we can better understand the bigger picture, as well as our role in changing it for the better. Another thing that really struck me were the similarities between Ferguson, a place that has gained international attention for racial tensions, and our own city of Charlotte. Things like neighborhood school lines being drawn along racial and economic boundaries or militarization of the police are issues that are not hundreds of miles away, but just a few blocks away. It is our calling as Episcopalians to find and serve Christ in one another, as accords with our Baptismal Covenant, and this mission trip was an important step in my journey to do so.
During our mission trip to Ferguson, Missouri, we learned about the concept of race and its effects. On our first night, after we getting to know one another, some of us gathered to discuss recent issues such as the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray. We engaged in such meaningful conversation that I knew the bigger discussions that were coming would be very enlightening, and they were. On the second night, we learned all about oppression. The model that was used in the lesson was a table, which had four different legs supporting oppression and what keeps it going. Lessons and discussions like this continued throughout the trip and we gained more and more knowledge. I believe that this mission trip to Ferguson changed the minds of my fellow missionaries and I, in terms of how to help with racial issues and to support racial reconciliation work as we strive to change the world and break down the barriers of race.