St. Louis reverend and social activist encourages others to ‘find their lane’
On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh spoke with Rev. Michael Kinman, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in downtown St. Louis. Kinman will be leaving St. Louis to serve Episcopal congregants in Pasadena, California this fall.
Rev. Kinman is a social activist who became a visible fixture in protests following the shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014. He also led the ‘Rebuild the Churches Fund,’ an effort to raise $250,000 for predominately black churches that were lit ablaze last summer.
Kinman plans to continue his activist work in Pasadena later this year. In making the decision to move, he saw many similarities between Christ Church Cathedral of St. Louis and All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena.
“They both have an absolute - for generations - commitment to following Jesus through the work of social justice,” he said.
After spending 20 years in St. Louis, Kinman said his relationship with the community has changed significantly.
“Of all the things that have changed me and influenced my leadership here in St. Louis, at the top of the list…is listening to the voices of the young, black, mostly queer leadership that came off the streets in Ferguson,” he said.
Before Michael Brown’s death, Kinman did not have many friendships north of the so-called Delmar divide, but now some of his closest relationships are with community members he met through the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m frustrated because people of color have been told for generations, ‘Be patient and wait,’” he said. “This is literally a matter of life and death. People are dying fast at the hands of the police, and people are dying slow at the hands of lack of education and economic opportunity.”
The reverend recognizes that change takes time, and while he wishes the process would start to progress more quickly in St. Louis, he is enthusiastic about what the future holds.
Through Kinman’s involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement, he has seen young, energized leaders rise up to “find their lane.” These ‘lanes’ include art, music, politics – anything that allows young people to express themselves, their frustrations, and their vision for the future.
He is also encouraged by the efforts of community leaders to create environments that foster important, often difficult conversations.
“There are conversations that are happening and listening that is going on,” he said. “There are great people who are doing incredible work of helping us listen to each other in ways that have never happened before.”
"Not everyone's job is to do what I do, but I want to help you find what your role in this movement is because the only way we're going to get there is if we get there together."
While Rev. Kinman celebrates the passion and energy of young protesters and activists, he also sees a place for those who would like to get involved in other ways.
“Not everyone’s job is to do what I do, but I want to help you find what your role in this movement is because the only way we’re going to get there is if we get there together,” he explained.
One of Kinman’s goals is creating solidarity between all St. Louis residents. He strives to accomplish this through what he calls ‘fictive kinship,’ which is creating intentional relationships across differences.
Despite his frustrations, Rev. Kinman said he loves St. Louis and believes strongly in its capacity for change.
“St. Louis is a great city,” he said. “St. Louis is worth it. Put the effort not just into Band-Aid solutions but having the real conversations and figuring out how do we really come together and address the core issues.”
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.