Any Churches Celebrating Black History Month in Canada?

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The 2018 Black History Month campaign in Canada is entitled "Black Canadian Women: Stories of Strength, Courage, and Vision."

Has your church community ever held an event celebrating Black History Month? Will you be observing or holding special events for this year’s campaign? What are some resources you and/or your church use to promote racial reconciliation?

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“Has your church community ever held an event celebrating Black History Month?” No, for the same reason that we don’t celebrate White History Month, Brown History Month, or Asian History Month.  We find that constantly dividing people into various identity groups is divisive and unloving and follows the destructive patterns of the world.  Identity politics has no place in the church.

“Will you be observing or holding special events for this year’s campaign?” No, our worship services and communal gatherings are times for us to come together and celebrate our unity and commonality in Christ, not to follow the worldly pattern of separation and enmity.   

“What are some resources you and/or your church use to promote racial reconciliation?”  We tend to use the Bible to promote love and fellowship – there’s an endless trove of wisdom and instruction for how to foster love in our midst and with our neighbors outside the church.  We find that the wisdom of man pales in comparison to God’s great revelation.  In fact, the wisdom of man is often shown to be foolishness when exposed to the light of God’s Word.  So when God’s Word tells us that cultural and ethnic differences have no weight in God’s kingdom economy and that we are not to regard each other “according to the flesh”, we take that as truth and seek to live accordingly.  To be sure, we fail each other along the way, but we seek to continually reorient ourselves with gospel truths from God’s Word. The law and gospel proclaimed routinely and clearly from the pulpit and adorned in our lives are central to the life of the church and are the God-ordained tools for promoting unity and reconciliation.  Satan seeks to divide and conquer by sowing the seeds of hatred and division.  Satan loves it when the church focuses on externals and fleshly characteristics, because he knows (and has oft proved in the world) that such focus keeps people from focusing on the gospel truth of unity in being and unity in Christ.

Community Builder

Hi Eric,

Here's a resource that you might find helpful: https://network.crcna.org/racial-reconciliation/god%E2%80%99s-diverse-and-unified-family

In an environment where people of colour face systemic barriers to flourishing and the image of God is often not honoured in Black people & culture, marking Black history month is a way to affirm with the witness of scripture that Black people are image-bearers who will one day lay the riches of their cultures and traditions at the feet of Christ.

Peace,

Cam

 

Hello Cam, peace be with you as well, brother.  I have read that resource, and find parts of it helpful.  Other parts of it I find less than helpful or lacking.  It would be difficult for me to use the comment section to parse those differences sufficiently. 

I have a few questions: Since short people face barriers to flourishing (their discrimination being well documented), will you also be advocating for a short-people history month in order to affirm them as image-bearers?  Which groups will you include and which will you exclude in this effort?  Isn’t the act of excluding some then discriminatory?  You started out by saying people of color, but pivoted to “black people”.  What about the rest of people of color?  Relatedly, who is a person of color?  My wife is ¼ Mexican – is she a person of color?  How much “color” counts? Does there need to be “racial reconciliation” between my wife and I and I don’t even know it? 

What leads you to believe that black people (or any people, for that matter) “will one day lay the riches of their cultures and traditions at the feet of Christ”?  Does scripture give us reason to believe that cultural differences will be recognized, much less celebrated in heaven?  The only reference I see in scripture to laying anything at Jesus’ feet is the casting of crowns referred to in Revelation 4:10, and I know of no interpretation of that passage that considers the crowns to be our “cultures and traditions”, as if any culture is somehow worthy of offering to God.

Many in the church are growing tired of the incessant “othering” promoted by the denomination.  We are tired of the repeated practice of placing people into identity groups and treating them as a monolith.  We are tired of placing enmity between brothers and sisters by constantly assuming that people of different appearances are in need of reconciliation simply because they look different.

Interestingly enough, the CRC has become quite guilty of practicing and promoting prejudice, as defined in the document that you referenced.   The document defines prejudice as such: Prejudice – a negative attitude or assumption about others on the basis of their identification with a certain group of people.  With the CRC’s recent fascination with sociology and promotion of the concept of “white privilege”, the CRC has sought to make it quite acceptable to be prejudiced against “whites”, however you understand that grouping.  The CRC has gone so far as to forward the idea all whites bear a guilt for which they must repent.

Another observation from the document you referenced: their definition of race is wanting.  The document defines race as such: Race – a term used to describe men and women who share biologically transmitted traits that are defined as socially significant.  I’ll go back to my short person example.  Would anyone reasonably conclude that being short is not socially significant?  If anyone thinks so, they should peruse Match.com for a while and they will be disabused of such a notion.  Is not height “biologically [genetically] transmitted”? Then are short people a race of people?  And whom must they be reconciled with? Everyone else?  Also, as offered, the definition treats race as something real, not artificial.  I much prefer this quote from Shiao Chong that provides key qualification: “Race is an artificial pseudo-scientific category used to describe people who share biologically transmitted traits that are defined as socially significant. Although it is commonly believed to be a scientific ”fact,” there is actually no scientific evidence to support the categorization of humanity into biological “races” based on physical traits such as skin color, eye color and nose width.”  If there is no scientific reason or basis to categorize people by race, and the Bible gives no endorsement of such practice, then how can it possibly be helpful for the church to continue to prop up the idea of “races” that must be reconciled?  Do you realize that the concept of “races” is Darwinian and is quite useful for white supremacists for all manner of hate?

So to repeat myself: no, my church and I are not interested in participating in more ways to splitting us into competing or clashing identity groups. The antidote to anti-gospel hatred of the “other” is not more “othering”.

Community Builder

If you are looking for a good book club book during Black History Month, I suggest "The Stone Thrower" by Jael Richardson.  In broad strokes, this is a story about Jael's dad, Chuck Ealy, who played football in the Canadian Football League. It is also a book about Chuck's experience with race in the U.S., where he grew up, and about Jael's experience with race in Canada.  I found it eye-opening.