A few weeks ago I wrote a blog for the church which I never posted. The blog was titled“American Empire and the Kingdom of God- The Identity Crisis of the Christian Citizen” but after a few conversations throughout the week I felt it wasn’t quite the right time. I did not post because I knew people who already agree with me, would agree with me and people who disagree with me would disagree. Many of our conversations and posts seem to be less about making our world a better place, and more about being right and winning. Because of this I decided not to post the blog and instead began thinking how can we as a church become better at being a multicultural community that combats the sins of racism, classism and sexism in all their forms, both individually and systemically. The truth is I don’t have the answer and neither do you. But maybe WE do. However, WE must first truly become WE. WE must learn to listen to voices that maybe we have not had a lot of experience listening to. And perhaps by gathering together and listening together, we will learn to march together.
Out of my pondering I felt a need within the church to hear from one another about our perspectives on race, class, and gender; and how each of these have impacted our lives. I will be leading a group in the spring where we will walk through a great resource for churches who are or hope to become multicultural. We will walk through this together, listening to one another and learning from one another. Other materials will be offered up as “bonus” material for those who want to take a closer look at a few of the things we will be talking about. Possible examples being the new Netflix documentary 13th and The New Jim Crow just to name a few.
I know this will be a powerful experience for any who dive in. My hope is it will be a truly diverse group where we can learn from one another and maybe even bring some healing to one another. This is the gathering and listening step to becoming WE. I have two hopes for this group.
- Continuous dialogue where relationships are formed and strengthened with new leaders emerging and then going out and sharing their experiences with others in our community.
- We learn to march together.
For those of you who follow me on social media you may have noticed that some of my posts the past two weeks have been a little different. Calling out injustice in places like New York, where earlier this week I emailed the Mayor asking him to hold the police officer who killed Eric Garner accountable, the closing of Rikers and the ending of broken windows policing. Calling out injustice in the construction of the Dakota pipeline and sending money to help those fighting for their rights there. To San Francisco and asking the Mayor to take the recommendations of a panel that found corruption within the police force after racist and homophobic texts were uncovered. And also making calls and writing emails asking for the cops involved in the shootings of Mario Woods and Alex Nieto to be held accountable for their actions. I did not do these actions alone but rather as a part of the Injustice Boycott.
This is a movement attempting to call out injustices in these three areas named before with the hope of spreading to other places. Please hear me when I say this is not anti-police, it is anti-police brutality though. Something we learn when we are unified is we can accomplish anything. The financial goal of those we were helping in the Dakota Pipeline protest was met that very same day. The unjust killings in New York and San Francisco have been unable to fade away because people came together and refused to let them be forgotten. Earlier this week I read a story about Rev. Barber who is the President of the NAACP in North Carolina and leader of the Moral Monday Movement. The story goes on to say because this group met every week and did not allow injustices to escape the spotlight they had a huge impact in the change in leadership. We can’t underestimate the power of our voices when we are united. My hope is that you would join me in this fight and that we would learn to take this level of organization, this level of action, and this level of WE to our local area. How much could WE change by standing together. We are finishing up our series “By Faith” and have a series coming in 2017 called “Unified.” I can’t help but feel like God is positioning us and preparing us for something amazing in the year to come. However, we must be willing to take a step of faith. Major transformation in our world calls for major transformation in how we live our own lives. If we want systems and structures that have existed for centuries to change we have to change our lives as well. After all doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
Final note. For those who struggle with this conversation in the church, let us follow our minority savior who was born under an oppressive government and unjustly killed because he preached good news to the poor, crossed racial/ethnic boundaries and wouldn’t act right in the Temple.