In a current cultural climate fraught with racial tension and division, BIC pastor Justin Douglas shares his insights and experience reaching across the divide to bring his community closer together.
Earlier this year at The Bridge, we decided to tackle some difficult topics in a series titled “Elephant in the Room.” For the first Sunday in this series, we chose to focus on racial justice. We saw this as a clear issue that needed to be addressed and, even more, as an area we all needed to grow in our understanding and experience.
As people walked into the service that morning, we gave them each a pair of sunglasses. Using the sunglasses as an illustration, we spent ten minutes talking about the lenses through which we see the world and how many factors have shaped the way we see these things. We invited the racial justice program coordinator of the Harrisburg (Pa.) YWCA to come educate us as I filled in the theological pieces.It’s important that we as the Church engage in tough, honest conversations surrounding race.
As humans, our vision is not 20/20. Only Jesus sees perfectly. So we enter into these tough topics humbly, seeking Jesus and his greater vision for reconciliation. The pain within our nation at this particular time offers us an opportunity to speak from the Kingdom perspective. We do not conform to the patterns of this world, but rather we renew our minds. When it comes to racial justice in this time and place, there is much renewal that needs to take place and many patterns that need to change.
The week leading up to our Racial Justice Sunday was quite stressful for me as a pastor. Talking about issues of race in a large community context can feel a lot like disarming a bomb; cut the wrong wire and BOOM. This feeling can cause us to avoid the conversation altogether. But it’s important that we as the Church engage in tough, honest conversations surrounding race.
Here at The Bridge, we have only begun to take the first steps in our work surrounding racial reconciliation. And we invite our brothers and sisters across the BIC to do the same. The Kingdom of God offers great wisdom—wisdom which requires us to boldly enter into difficult conversations and realities as we work with our faith communities to take steps toward justice and reconciliation.
Adapted from “Bridge Builders: BIC pastors crossing racial divides” for BIC U.S.’ August 2016 Connect newsletter.