COVID restrictions are loosened in Alberta and believers are re-gathering in churches. The biggest concerns appear to be over being asked not to sing, hug as fellowship, and wear masks. We’ve learned a lot in isolation but what if God reserved our most important lesson for now?
The world mobilized to protest against racial injustice. 15,000 people rallied in Edmonton alone. Innisfail joined the ranks recently. What if the influence of churches is needed now more than ever? What if our response begins within? Just because the size and volume of the protest may be diminishing doesn’t mean the issue is any less significant.
In light of the worldwide calls for racial justice, how are Alberta churches functioning as the light?
A Prophetic Voice
God always starts with His own household in making systemic change. “The time has come for judgment and it must begin with God’s household.” 1 Peter 4:17 (NLT)
The prophet Amos included the entire nation of Israel in his prophecies. “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Amos 5:21-24 (NIV) Surely everyone in the nation wasn’t guilty? That makes the point. We’re in this together.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18 NIV
We’ve witnessed examples of police commissioners sowing seeds of peace. They linked arms with protesters, walked together, and took a knee together. Peace officers listened to protesters and embraced them. They acted with understanding and humility. Their actions are not weak. They are what Jesus described as meek.
The church could use a whole lot of meekness.
Sow Seeds of Peace
On the day of the first BLM rally in Edmonton I had a long conversation with a family friend about being a person of color in Canada. I never imagined an experience of hurt because I had never asked.
Pastor, there may be people in your congregation that silently suffer with the effects of racial injustice – felt in the community and your congregation. That’s hard for the pastors to hear because we intentionally work to build loving, accepting, and compassionate relationships just like Jesus. Our efforts have another gear.
Being multi-ethnic does not mean you are a multi-cultural. Churches can be multi-ethnic demographically and mono-cultural in expression.
- Set the pace by calling someone of color and have a conversation about his or her experience.
- Put aside your preconceived ideas.
- Listen and hear.
- Seek to understand.
- Don’t defend or explain.
- Don’t minimize what you hear.
Hailey Armagoon recommends reading “Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church” by Soong-Chan Rah. He says,
“If we do not take the time to reflect on each other’s history and story, then we are not ready to engage in cross-cultural ministry. When we hear the stories of others’ suffering, we have the opportunity to lament together and then move forward in a positive and authentic manner.”
The Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America is an inter-racial organization. The President, Rev. David Wells, states the purpose “To embrace and implement biblical principles of racial reconciliation, justice, and equity within our spheres of influence, and to work toward the eradication of poverty.”
Light A Candle In The Darkness
Don’t wait to be asked to speak out. Be gracious, honest and humble. Take the posture of learning. If you are called out, Connie Jacob offers wise direction on what to do.
What if God is directing pastors to radically change our Monday scoreboard? What if in addition to tracking attendance, returning guests and new volunteers we tracked how many people were helped out of poverty, what advances we’re making in racial justice, and what initiatives we’re pursuing to free the oppressed?
Influence begins with lighting a candle in the darkness.
City Mosaic Church, Calgary – A panel discussion to talk race issues and see what God has to say about it and what we can do about it.
Rev. Patti Miller, Evangel Church, Montreal – 41:50 mark is a pastoral message about racism and the church.
APPLICATION: What do you think? Please join the conversation below.
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