Archives For Racial Reconciliation

Like many, I am still staggering from the fact that the President of the United States blamed “both sides” of the recent Charlottesville white supremacy rally and subsequent attack without openly condemning the white nationalists, let alone doing anything about their actions.

His statements have the white supremacists raving Trump’s praises:

Newsweek just ran an article that “White Nationalism is Now ‘State-Sanctioned’ Under Donald Trump, Experts Say,” which included this video: Continue Reading…

I did a sermon last Sunday (at bottom) that looked at how to apply the many biblical texts about oppression and injustice to a 2017 American context.  At Crossroads, we are making intentional steps to become a multi-ethnic church. I’ve been immersed in the multi-ethnic and racial reconciliation conversation since 2008 (when I first read Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith).  Many think there aren’t more multi-ethnic churches because of worship style, preaching style, cultural differences, and the general human inclination to clump with people who are like us.  In my observation, these are not the real reasons.  The primary reason there are not more multi-ethnic churches is because white Christians can’t typically be trusted with the experiences of people of color.  What I mean is, church is community.  The evangelical church is humorously known for overusing cliche words like “authentic” and “real” and their many synonyms.  This is what community is supposed to be.  But when a person of color shares their authentic and real experience–the daily racial micro-aggressions they endure, the history of our nation that created the disadvantages they face daily and have to strain to overcome, and so much more–white brothers and sisters in Christ either have no category for these things and are just confused, or at worst, deny these experiences and disadvantages all together.  If you can’t be real and authentic about your life experience in your Christian community, then you aren’t going to stay in that community.

Historically, the reason we have black denominations, seminaries, and churches is because the white churches and organizations did not let black people in…so they had to go and start their own.  And what we have today is the recent-byproduct. Continue Reading…

What does a multi-ethnic church really look like?

I get asked this question a lot at Crossroads, namely because we teach and vision-cast a lot about our desire to be a multi-ethnic church, which I usually follow-up by saying we still have a long way to go.  We are three and a half years into a 5-year-plan where becoming a multi-ethnic congregation was one of our goals.  Sociologists say that a multi-ethnic congregation can be defined as when the dominant group is not larger than 80% of the total population.  On our best day, if you include our kids and teens (where the majority of our people of color* are), we might barely fit the 80/20 rule — so does this mean we’ve met our goal in becoming a true multi-ethnic church?

*People of Color is the contemporary term used in academic conversations about race in America.  “Non-white” is not a good term because it forces people of color to identify themselves in relation to the standard of whiteness rather than in relation to themselves.  It is not to be confused with the historical racial slur “colored.”

This is where I follow-up by saying we still have a long way to go!  It’s relatively easy to become multi-colored, but this is very different than being truly multi-cultural.  A true multi-ethnic church is probably beyond the reach of most people, which is why you see so few of them and so few real efforts to become one.  So, beyond the 80/20 principle, what does a true multi-ethnic church really look like?

Trust and Safety

I’ll start with this one because if it goes misunderstood, the rest of the identifiers won’t matter (and probably won’t happen).  A person of color needs to be able to lament, emote, pray, and petition the Lord and their church community about the challenges of oppression they face on a daily basis.  They need to be able to do this without being judged or corrected by the white population. Continue Reading…

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Recreation of Martin Luther King’s cell in Birmingham Jail at the National Civil Rights Museum

Who are you in this letter?

The white clergy opposing Dr. King?  The white moderate?  The white church sitting idly behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows?  The black indifference?  The black violent nationalist?  The small group of white clergy standing by Dr. King, being ridiculed by white culture because of it? 

Who do you want to be? 

 

Read the full letter here.

(Written to 8 white clergymen who published an open letter in Birmingham saying that social injustices existed but argued that the battle against racial segregation should be fought solely in the courts, not the streets.  Dr. King’s letter was written in the margins of newspaper scraps, the only paper given to him in jail.)

 

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms. Continue Reading…