Archive for November, 2007

Preferred Segregation, the beginning
November 30, 2007

It was my understanding that Mandela murdered apartheid and King killed segregation. If this is so, why do I see these doctrines still defining my world?

            For two hours, I sat in the back of a brightly lit sanctuary as six-hundred fellow worshipers sang, danced, shouted, and even screamed in an effort to connect with the sovereign Creator of melanin. I never caught a starring eye or a whispering child, even as first time visitors were asked to stand and give their name. No one asked any questions because none were needed. The colored light that their rods and cones interpreted for them told my story. I was white…in a black church. This was not a problem, just a fact. After all, this is 2007 – the aggravated beast of racism has been dead for years, right? Confirmation came in the form of at least a dozen hands to shake during the welcome. All are welcome in God’s house!

            Worship styles were worlds apart yet completely expected. After seeing native Kenyans celebrate their God, the roots of “black worship” can be confidently attributed to African ancestry. Conversely, founding models of “white worship” are found in the subdued Protestant churches of Europe. Honestly, it was quite refreshing to break from stiff, light people half-heartedly lip-synching. In evangelical circles and beyond, a common generalization of black and white churches is frequently made. African-Americans possess a rich, vibrant worship while lacking thorough Biblical teaching; European-Americans celebrate deep, theological instruction and usually settle for tame, unenthusiastic worship. This dichotomy of standards, although not universal, has plagued the existence of the Church for quite some time. 

            Neither acceptance in a black church, nor differing worship styles were the focus of my cognitive elaboration during the visit to Consolidated. Before, during, and after this experience, I have exclusively dwelt on the inadequacies of the Church in relation to its polarizing nature. As a follower of Jesus Christ and a firm believer in His Church, I struggle on many levels with what I interpret as a contemporary form of segregation in religious spheres. The church that I was absent from this particular Sunday morning possesses not one single African-American soul (short of my biracial brother). Consolidated would have failed this diversity test as well if it weren’t for my presence. My question is this: Is the segregation of the Church a division in the Kingdom of God? As a universal body of believers who exist in a nation that boasts of diversity and the outdated nature of segregation, we still seem to reflect the laws that once unjustly defined America. If I was on the outside looking in, I would be skeptical of any mission that the socially-constructed races were not able to unite for. Blacks worship with blacks, whites preach to whites, blacks serve blacks, and whites pray with whites. This unfortunate reality is not consistent with the teachings of Christ. It seems that the walls of segregation were never torn down in the Church.

            It is quite obvious that the vast majority of churches will never naturally evolve into diverse settings – so the question remains: Is a strategic integration necessary? There are churches around the country that purposefully hire ministers of various races to achieve diversity in the church. But is this “manipulation of the system” justified? In my assessment, the overwhelming component of this segregated system (besides cultural and racial history) is varying manifestations of worship. Similarly, Pentecostals don’t spend Sunday mornings with Baptists. So the question becomes substantially bigger than that of the races.

               In my humble opinion, I interpret the segregation of churches (both racially and denominationally) as divisions in the Kingdom of God. I am pessimistic of its repair. If the mutual love and adoration of Christ can not lead us to realize ultimate integration in all arenas of life, then nothing will. We will forever exist and function as black and white Churches who value diversity but aren’t willing to make strides and sacrifices to bring it to fruition.

Recently, I sat down with Reverend Richard Gaines of Consolidated Baptist Church (the biggest African-American church in Lexington) to discuss these delicate issues. In the next couple of post, the fruits of our conversation will be relayed to you. I pray that his insight and wisdom will help spark some further discussion.                   

Race: The Preface
November 16, 2007

For the next month or so, I will be compositionally wrestling with a deep-rooted passion of mine: RACE. My prayer is that these posts will serve as a catalyst for enlightened, socially enriching discussion. Though I ask for sensitivity, I also request honesty.

As a preface to this conversation, I would like to declare RACE to be two very important things:

  • A biological myth
  • A social reality  

 Due to the amazing holiday that we have entitled Thanksgiving, these posts will not begin until after Turkey Day. I hope you have a blessed season with your family and with your food.

Soli Deo Gloria

Conquerors
November 12, 2007

To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (Ephesus).

The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death (Smyrna).

To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that one one knows except the one who receives it (Pergamum).

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earten pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my father (Thyatira).

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life (Sardis).

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God (Philadelphia).

The one who conquer, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne (Laodicea).