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Community forum after Ferguson decision, Nov. 26, Dec. 3

IN BRIEF: A pastoral response to the decision of the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri will be held at Macedonia Baptist Church, 1052 Barton Street, Conyers, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, noon - 2 p.m. The public is invited.

A community-wide Redemption Forum for youth and young adults will be held the following week Wednesday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. at Springfield Baptist Church. The public is invited.

On Monday evening, Missouri officials announced the grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who was accused of killing unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Community leaders, law enforcement, clergy and school system leaders across the country and in Rockdale, Newton, DeKalb and metro Atlanta areas have been meeting in the weeks leading up to the anticipated grand jury decision in an effort to proactively communicate and talk about how to deal with any possible reactions to any decision.

Churches had been discussed as being a safe place to express frustration.

Local pastors that attended a meeting last Thursday with law enforcement and school systems from around metro Atlanta included Pastor Eric Lee of Springfield Baptist and Pastor Aldren Sadler of the Church of New Beginnings.

Pastor Sadler, a chaplain with the RCSO, said dialogue with local law enforcement started back in September. "I had raised some questions to the (police) chief, what if something like this happened (in Conyers)? Would we be ready for it?"

He described last Thursday's meeting as a way to have everyone on the same page. The church would offer a safe place for people to vent and clergy would encourage their congregations to remain peaceful and calm.

Pastor Eric W. Lee, head of Springfield Baptist, said in a previous interview about the meeting, "There was a unanimous feeling that we need to protect the Constitutional right to protest, but at the same time we need to acknowledge the role of public safety."

"We want people to have a voice but we don't want people to be arrested or injured" or lash out in a way that is not constructive, Lee said. "We want people to channel the frustration into something more transformative."

He continued, "What gets lost in a lot of this is... there's a dead young man in the street. That loss of life was traumatic. His life mattered... The lives of young people matter... The only thing we can do is be better."