A group of us, on Sunday evenings twice a month, had begun discussing the book by Professor Carolyn B. Helsel, Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Racism. We had hoped our study would lead to some meaningful conversations with some brothers and sisters from Mount Pleasant Christian, our predominately African-American church in Greensboro. Then, possibly, we could expand the conversation by asking Christians from other denominations to talk with us about their experience of racism, and about how we might work to end White supremacy.
This week shows how important that conversation is. The worldwide alarm at what’s happening in our nation should impress us all with the urgency of real change. By “real change,” I don’t mean simply being more courteous or friendly in our transactions with people of color. I’m talking about something much stronger, deeper, and long-lasting than good manners. I’m talking about the vision of our General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, who wrote on May 26th:
“I want a church that loves so courageously that we will stand up and insist that the killing of black and brown people must stop, and will work to remove those in office who fail to enact laws and policy accordingly.
I want a church that loves so radically that we are always putting up chairs to make room for more, always leaving empty chairs at the table, expecting that many more will come, turning no one away.
I want a church that loves so generously that our priority will be the elimination of poverty, to ensure that everyone has enough to eat, safe and decent housing, healthcare, a living wage and quality education that is not based on your zip code.
I want a church that loves so creatively that we are willing to dismantle structures, traditions, and processes that dishonor humanity and marginalize any among us.
I want a church that loves so completely that we are not satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I want a church that follows Jesus, and is therefore committed to work for all of this. Let’s get to work, church!”
I want that kind of church, too, and I hope you share much, if not all, of this vision. Thank you for the honor of serving as your pastor for the past year. I’ll stand with you until whenever!