Multi-Ethnic Churches Lament America’s Racial Injustice
Aug. 25, 2014 – Time Magazine
The American church must do better in providing spiritual leadership toward a healing response.
Throughout this past week the attention of our nation has been rightly set on Ferguson, Missouri. Tragedy and tensions in this small town have served to highlight troubling trends elsewhere, too, in the United States, in what remains for us a very long and sad history of racial tension and strife. As followers of Jesus and evangelical pastors of multi-ethnic and economically diverse churches we lament and mourn the death of yet another unarmed citizen, in this case the death a young black man. Furthermore, we lament the fact that our country, and our world, remains deeply plagued by racial and systemic injustice.
At its core the scourge of racism presents a spiritual crisis with real life and death repercussions. And while government and educational programs, together with the efforts of countless individuals, groups and agencies, have long-sought to eliminate prejudice and the disparaging consequences of systemic racism still deeply embedded within our society, it is long-past time to recognize that systemic racism cannot be overcome apart from the establishment of local churches which intentionally and joyfully reflect the love of God for all people beyond the distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide. For not only does God require of governments and institutions the work of justice, we, too, the local church, the bride of Christ, have been ordained by God to this task. With this in mind, the American Church can and must do better in providing spiritual leadership toward a healing response. Indeed, we call immediately for it to do so.
As pastors representing diverse men and women who walk, work, and worship together as one, we today repent on behalf of the American Church for in no small measure contributing to the perpetuation of racism in society due to acceptance of systemic segregation within our own ranks. The fact that 86.3% of local churches throughout this country fail to have at least 20% diversity in their attending membership is one reason the American Church has been rendered impotent in attempting to speak on what is, perhaps, the most critical issue of our time: lingering, systemic, racial injustice in a supposedly post-racial society. More than this we believe the credibility of our message, the very Gospel, itself, is at stake, otherwise undermined when proclaimed from segregated pulpits and pews in an increasingly diverse and cynical society. It is for this reason that we lift our collective heart and voice to point the way forward, together. For when tensions, conflicts, and perennial misunderstandings along the lines of race and class persist silence is no longer an option.
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