Ivan James received the Unity Award Saturday afternoon from the Values Team of the Missouri Annual Conference. James was recognized for his focus on the values of inclusiveness, justice and worth, particularly in regard to racial reconciliation in the St. Louis area following the demonstrations and unrest that erupted in Ferguson starting in August 2014.
A veteran of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, James was willing to share his deep knowledge and insight as he passed the baton to a new generation of people engaged in the struggle for justice and reconciliation. Working in the background, James provided guidance to clergy and laypersons through a time of crisis and prepared them for the hard work of reconciliation and justice moving into the future. He provided counsel and advice to local, regional and national politicians and pastors on their public and private responses. He offered insight and wisdom to district, conference and national leadership. He also helped lead the Gateway Central District pastors in a time of prayer and offered resources on understanding the history of St. Louis’ relationship with race in the immediate days following the shooting.
As pastor of Asbury United Methodist church, James guided his congregation to determine their response to the crisis and deepen their relationship to the Greater Ville neighborhood, a historic neighborhood located in North St. Louis, and which is home to many of the significant cultural institutions for the St. Louis black community.
Upon learning of the award, James responded, “This award should go to the Asbury congregation, who have faith that the Almighty God will guide us to build Christ’s Kingdom by serving those in the community that need to be served.”