Thank you CRCNA for speaking on this topic. It is of the uttermost importance that the racism that the black community has experienced be heard and felt by the church.
The resources listed below are amazing as well! I'm so proud to be a member of this denomination!
Why don't you grieve for the 40% of Black children that are murdered in the womb?
Why don't you grieve for the Black people that are murdered every weekend in Chicago and other large cities? Blacks make up 35% of Chicago's population and account for 76% of the homicides. Looks like a cultural problem.
Why don't you grieve for the 60% of Black children that live in single households?
Why don't you grieve for David Dorn, the Black retired St. Louis cop killed by rioters?
Where is the systemic racism? Name the policy that specifically targets Blacks for unequal treatment?
What statistics do you base your racism on? Last year, according to the Washington Post database on police shootings, 1004 people were killed. Of them 9 were unarmed Blacks and 19 unarmed Whites. Of the 9 Blacks, five were shot while attacking the officer, one had a weapon is his car, one used a car, and in two cases the officers were charged with a crime. Where is the systemic racism?
Breonna Taylor was involved with a drug dealer who shot at police when they entered the house. The police returned fire and Ms. Taylor was unfortunately killed. Many details are in question. The address, the no-knock policy, the warrant. Tragically sad. Racism?
George Floyd was arrested for a counterfeit $20 bill. While some details are missing and there are conflicting autopsies as to how he died, what the officer did is unconscionable and criminal. He was arrested within hours. Racism?
Ahmaud Arbery was killed on video. Hunted? Chased? The trial will show the details. The DOJ is investigating for possible hate crime. Perps are possibly racists. Would systemic racism investigate?
So without statistical evidence about "racism", without an ounce of evidence that in any of these killings was based on the perpetrator/officer being a racist, you have publicly past judgment on these individuals and society without due process. Hardly the Christian route of justice. In other words this statement is nothing more than virtue signaling. Shame.
Don, I agree that all violence is wrong and it is true that a few evil people hijacked some of the protests for wrong motives. However, to focus on that is to completely miss the point. Racism, white privilege, centuries-long oppression and injustice must be addressed. It seems to me that these explain, not excuse, the actions of those who resorted to violence and thievery. We have to focus on the foundation and perhaps the other matters will be resolved
First to the authors, thank you!
Criticism will come because you actually took a stand. It's sad and weird that something so unbelievably simple and straightforward as Racism is sin wouldn't be met with anything other than Amen.
Nevertheless it strikes a nerve in the church.
So that I'm clear as a black reformed pastor in CRC: We have work to do in this area! Sit with that. It's uncomfortable and real.
Be present and don't assume too soon that you "get it"
The Lord is our help. I believe He abides in the uncomfortable space.
Fred - Your Brother, A Pastor, still Reformed and still Black
Agreed--I worked at a central city Christian school for many years and now work for my church's children's ministry. I would love to find ways to help the families in my church as they teach their children about racial issues within our country.
Thanks, Colin, for this excellent article. As a past member of the denominational anti-racism team, a member of a diverse church which has long been committed to anti-racism training, I have personally attended five two day anti-racism training events over the past 20 years. Naming and understanding the dynamics of racism, both personal and systematic, are important, especially to white Americans who have the option of remaining unaware. However, as you mentioned in your article, engaging with someone of a different race is extremely important. My deep friendship with several African American couples has taught me far more than hours and hours of analysis could ever teach me about how it feels for my friends and gives me enough love and compassion to convict me and to move me to action.
Thanks Phyllis, it was great to have your participation and really wonderful to learn from others around the themes in this book! So much good discussion, and so much to think about.
I first read the book early in 2020 while we were out of state, before the coronavirus. I appreciated reading it then but when I read it again for the book study the information really sank in for me. Ruth writes with conviction and resolve to continue to carry her message forward. I appreciated the following quotable quotes: "Sexual assault is not 'a women's issue.' Sexual assault is a violation of the implicit societal covenant not to harm vulnerable persons." p. 231, and "The absence of response is not neutrality, but complicity." p. 236 It was great to interact and learn with others by Zoom. Phyllis Roelofs
It was good to hear from you again. May the Lord continue to bless you in your work.
A few years ago the CRC Synod adopted the Belhar Confession as a contemporary testimony of the church. What steps has your church taken to live into this confession? Do you use any pieces of it in your liturgies? Have you studied it together in light of the latest incidents of oppression of people of color (POC)? Have you considered how to promote strong leadership by POCs, women, and young adults within your congregation? Have you held listening sessions where folks were encouraged to honestly share, lament, repent, and work to dismantle systemic racism within your spheres of influence? Now is a good time to recommit yourselves to anti-racism. The world is watching. So is the One who redeemed you.
Hi Don, thanks for your note. I'm one of the authors of this statement. You are right that violence should be condemned. I grieve for the families of police officers who were injured and died in the violence in recent days, and for business owners whose property was ransacked and stolen by people with a wide variety of motivations. Condemning violence is the main point of this statement, the violence of racism that has ransacked and stolen the lives of black and brown people in the United States and Canada for centuries. That's what we want to highlight. If you have the stomach for it, you can read the names of thousands of African Americans killed by police since 2013 in this list prepared by the World Communion of Reformed Churches. And indeed, your concluding statement is also our hope and prayer, that the church can be an instrument of God's healing. We provided suggested actions to assist God's people in moving toward that vision.
Yes, racism is a sin that should be preached about, acknowledged and confessed, but violence should also be condemned. There are police officers who have been assaulted and killed. There are both white and minority businesses that have been destroyed. This morning, I was listening to the radio where a minority woman had her business destroyed and she doesn't think she will ever reopen it again. The Bible speaks out about hate, but it also addresses killing, stealing and disrespecting the authorities that God has placed over us. Yes, governments have flaws and can become corrupt, but the worst form of "government" is anarchy. Anarchy hurts everyone.
May the Church give calm and healing to our grieving to this broken and hurting world.
Interesting that the riots weren't mentioned at all in this piece.
Great post, I think this long over due! Thank You
I appreciate this post. I do find it unfortunate though, that it starts off by trying to say that this is not a political action. I agree whole-heartedly that working for justice for all, and fighting racism, is a biblical position. However, many of the suggestions given to work toward becoming a church of reconciliation and justice are political. It's not a bad thing for it to be political. They are religious and political, let's own that and not hide from it in fear of potential backlash.
We've had some feedback about this webinar from those who felt that not enough attention was paid to the harm done by narcissism, especially church leaders. Just a note here - This webinar focused on the person with narcissistic tendencies, and less focus was given to those who have been victimized. It's valuable, with a prevention focus, to look at what needs to happen within those who have narcissistic tendencies, to stop the behavior and prevent future harm. That does not negate the need to understand the deep and often devastating effects of those who have been on the receiving end of this behavior. Both those who are harmed, and those who cause harm require healing in their inner being. And it may be a long and painful journey. The Church has a role to play, if we want our churches to be healing places that reveal God's transforming power. Safe church has heard many, many stories over the years of devastation caused by those with narcissistic tendencies, including church leaders. To help people understand these impacts, we've gathered a series of blogs/stories. It's called S.O.S. Sharing our Stories, you can find them here on The Network.
In addition, we've received feedback about other resources and links to other sites. This one features several articles, that may be helpful, Biblical Perspectives on Narcissism. While the Bible does not specifically refer to “narcissism” – which takes its name from Greek mythology – it does speak to the subject.
We appreciate the feedback, and hope that this webinar can be a first step, or a starting point for further discussion about this important and timely topic.
Another tip...whatever online giving solution you choose, make sure it integrates with your church management system (or could be integrated in the future if you don't yet have a church management system). You don't want to be rekeying or importing transactions. As soon as a donation is made, it should be instantly reflected in that member's giving record, and members should be able to log in to view their giving history, adjust their recurring donations, etc.
This isn't high-tech stuff. These days, any church large or small can have this functionality by choosing a good, web-based church management system (there are many on the market). It's been a game-changer for my own church, especially for our church admin and volunteer deacons/bookkeeper.
How is it possible that there seems to so little discussion about a primary cause of poverty and racial disparity--that is education? Let's have a major discussion on the need for more Christian and/or charter schools for inner-city kids? A large majority of inner city parents desire better education for their children, yet the church seems to ignor this issue.
Thank you Colin! We in the CRC needed to hear your wise voice and suggestions. Personally, my association with many different cultural image bearers of God has been my best teachers. Two of my heroes are Dr. ML King and Ruby Bridges.
Marion Van Soelen, Hull, IA
While I generally appreciate it, I am frustrated by part of your article. I believe it is not helpful to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. out of context, as your use of the quote seems to imply he approved of riot, which he absolutely did not. Everything he said and did (as far as I can tell) included a radical commitment to non-violence in addition to his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe we Jesus followers can improve the situation in our country by sharing, implementing, and living that same commitment to avoid violence and honor and respect all image bearers. I believe we should reject any and all 'riot', violence, and lawlessness and sincerely love each other. I wholeheartedly agree we should befriend and seek to understand each other no matter what shade of the human race our skin reflects.
What happens if the church you attend, with mostly white members, only acknowledges what is happening through prayer and that's it? When Covid 19 started it was prayed for, videos were made, banners were made to acknowledge the workers, it was in the sermon and the church website now has a whole new section. Covid 19 was not going to stop the church but what is happening now is met with silence except for in a prayer. I know that as a member of the church I can reach out and say this is wrong but shouldn't the church be doing more?
An excellent essay. We need to listen and act in love, mercy and grace. What else is there?
Thank you for posting this. We, as followers of Jesus, must take a strong stand in solidarity with those who have been harmed, and have died, due to the failure of white people, like me, refusing to do the necessary work, to make the necessary sacrifices, to overcome racism and correct the false narrative of white supremacy, the "original sin" of the U.S.A. May God have mercy, may he grant us his help, may we together seek a better tomorrow.
Thanks, Mary! One of my favourite picture books is Mex Fox's Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. I love the way in which Wilfrid gathers "memories" into a basket for Miss Nancy. I hope that families will use the box in which these faith nurturing (and fun!) items are placed to gather up and save some of their own memories of this summer so that when they pull it off the shelf on some future date they'll not only recall all that happened, but that God was with them through it all.
Thanks, Melissa. So glad you found it helpful!
Brilliant idea, Karen. Sharing with the Going for Growth Facebook page and the UK's network of Diocesan Children & Youth Advisers.
Looking forward to catching up tonight :)
That is very true Deb, we all are bias! Realizing that is a key,even at our best we fall short of what God intended! Thx for feedback
This is amazing. We're definitely going to do this.
Thank you for this article. I hadn't realized how bad racism was until I married a "black" man. I know I can never understand the prejudice he experienced and still experiences. I am amazed at how many people come up to me with an, "I'm not racist statement and rationale." In nursing school that gave a presentation that has stuck with me. He said, "Everyone is racist. It's acknowledging that racism and not letting that rule our responses and actions." I have found that statement useful so many times. I don't give anyone a pass who approaches me with that question.
Excellent post Michele! I too have been basically house bound for 20 yrs with my illnesses. This crisis should be a wake up for people living as if hardship will past them by! Hopefully, they will learn the empathy that you develop from your own experience for others. I also hope they see the Lord is your only stable thing and rejoice in his blessings He gives us in our struggles as I had to learn. Glory be to God!
Thank you for addressing this head on!
I understand Collin, as a white person I cannot hope to know what feels like to be African American! But I have thought the same thing was happening. I could see the injustice. As a disabled person, I felt what it's like to face a form of discrimination. I will pray and keep speaking to this injustice! Thx
This is a great list, Staci. Thank you for sharing these ideas.
Excellent post, We do need to plan for whenever this crisis allows us and if it doesn't. Thank you for the great information.
"About Us Dummies Finding God in Science" by Eugene M. VanKanegan is a an easy fun read on an important subject. And it is reasonable at $3 for eBook.
Thank you for sharing this opening! How would you like people to apply?
Discussing what comes 'next' even though there is no indication the virus is receding and there is no cure is not a wise use of words. It indicates things are improving or safety can be lessened, simply because we want it.
Thanks, Walt, for your comment. I’m struck by your response to this article. It doesn’t really align well with our Belgic Confession (Art. 13) or Heidelberg Catechism (LD 10). Of course you may not be of Reformed persuasion or may not hold such confessions in high regard. Christians from other traditions will come to different conclusions than either you or the Reformed Confessions. Appealing to the Bible, as you have, will also bring a huge variety of interpretations. After all, with the hundreds of Christian denominations, there are nearly as many different interpretations of particular Bible passages. On top of that there are hundreds of different religions, all making the same claim as Christians that their Scriptures are the true inspired word of God. And with the variety of God inspired Scriptures there are a variety of ways to understand God’s (or the Gods) involvement in human events, as well as natural events such as the Corona virus.
I realize that Christians think they are the only ones with true insight into all things religious and spiritual, including the nature of God. But Christianity (in all its variety) is having a diminishing impact on first world nations (Western civilization) with its emphasis on reason. In other words, the Bible is seen as less and less relevant in our world of reason and even common sense. Religions, including Christianity, base their teachings on so-called supernatural revelations. For all the reasons that Christianity rejects the inspired teachings of all other religions, those outside of Christianity also reject the inspired teachings of the Bible for the same reasons. In other words, as a manmade revelation, the Bible is no more relevant than the Scriptures of other religions in forecasting or predicting God’s involvement or non involvement in world or personal affairs.
So what is God’s involvement in the Corona virus? Where do we look for resolve of this endemic? I would venture that most are looking to the experts in the scientific and medical fields. With over five million confirmed cases globally and nearly four hundred thousand deaths it would seem as though prayer has been less than effective. So let’s hope for a vaccine.
Thank you for sharing this opening! We are currently fixing a bug with uploading attachments. I'll shoot you an email so we can add that attachment once this is fixed.
Acts 17 is wonderful, many muslims actually watch the youtube videos to learn the truth about their "religion"; the imam/shamans also deceive their own followers. Check-out the "islamicize me", it is funny and an excellent way to learn the truth about islam's teachings, by far the most useful satire I have ever seen.
The Islam Critiqued videos on youtube are also well-researched and devastating to the usual whitewash of islam and its teachings. "Muslims say this, but their koran says this, therefore ...". Reductio ad absurdum used remarkably well to show the logical inconsistencies of this "intellectual space".
Pfander Films is doing historical-criticism (similar to how it was done against the Bible) of the public narrative of islam and its teachings. Which seems to be the biggest story and advancement now. What they told you about "islam", "mohammed", "koran", and "allah" is not what they said, and the biggest story lies behind the actual events in the eighth century that saw the "rise" of this "religion".
"Dan Gibson" has some excellent youtube videos on archeology in the now muslim world, with its implications on the true history of this region and how it relates the "standard" muslim accounts of history.
If you want to engage with muslims (or defend your beliefs and freedoms), you need the facts about islam, and research like this can save you from deception (which is one of the greatest strengths of islam or apostate judaism, eg the talmud and gnostic gospels were used as source material for the koran which was created in 1924AD). Otherwise, you will probably get spun around and misled by this cult (like some pastors have been).
Thank you! I can share the position description to attach, if you are able to do so.
Thank you for sharing this opening!
Lifted you up right now. Praying you keep drawing near to God.
Thank you for sharing this opening!
Thankyou for your comments,
I was just reading from a lovely old little pocket New Testament with pictures that I bought very cheap secondhand from a charity shop. John 18. There is so much to discover and ponder in the New Testament without visiting The old testament at all !
Very interesting to contemplate Peter's thoughts at this time, especially with all the prayers of Jesus telling his Father that he had done all that he was to do, praying that the lord would look after his disciples who believed in him and so in the Lord. So who was the disciple who was known to the high priest ? Was it John ? or Was it Judas ? and why was that disciple known to the High Priest ?
I would be interested to know your opinion or anyone elses.
Nicole is amazing! I had the honor of presenting for one the adult education opportunities she set up at Brookside, and she's so organized and encouraging! The kingdom is rich indeed with a treasure like her in it. Thanks, Nicole for this piece, and for your work. Both are a great representation of God using your gifts as well as your disability for His glory!
I recently read Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. It is a well- researched historical fiction about a village in England during the 1666 plague. Although it was an entirely different disease than COVID-19, it was interesting to learn how they were similarly quarantined, and what was known and not known about the spread of disease hundreds of years ago.
Just yesterday I finished reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michelle Richardson, another well-researched historical fiction. It is about the challenges faced by a Kentucky "Blue" who is one of the dedicated women who delivered reading materials to the desperately poor Appalachian families as part of Roosevelt's WPA.
I thoroughly enjoyed both books.
Thank you, Scott, for your thoughtful reflection. Of course God's will is not always done. Why else would our Lord teach us to pray, "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven"? To insist that the innumerable and unspeakable evil acts of mankind are God's will is to attribute to Him evil itself, which is a violation of the nature of God's essential and necessary goodness. Is God in control? No, but in the splendour of His holiness He reigns with sovereign wisdom, power, majesty and authority. In the words of Scripture itself, "I [the LORD] have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life that you and your children may live." Or, elsewhere, "In putting everything under Him, God left nothing that is not subject to Him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to Him." In matters like these, I often turn to that magnificent Psalm 131. As you conclude, Scott, it's complicated.
Thanks for sharing your journey with spiritual direction Henry. I hope it results in others becoming curious about it and checking it out.
Sounds like a good read! Thanks for sharing.