Undestroyed Walls III

       Reverend Gaines admitted that Lexington possesses ministers, both black and white, that he cannot “walk with” because of their lack of conviction regarding these issues. He said, “We are weak in the social aspect of the gospel…the key is to carry out the social gospel while remaining theologically anchored.” Many have failed in their attempt to achieve this balance; many are blind to its significance. Finding this balance is essential for an effective, relevant, God-honoring ministry. A congregational reflection of the Kingdom of God is only an aspect of carrying out the gospel, but an aspect that most churches have failed to realize. For the sake of the gospel, criticism and diagnosis cannot be our stopping point. We must push forward and formulate a remedy. With this in mind, I asked Reverend Gaines this question:

Is strategic integration necessary?

       “Necessary” proved to be too strong of a word for Reverend Gaines. He preferred “helpful” and believed that legislating diversity should not be the exclusive approach. “Pure hearts will do the right thing,” he said. He felt that a natural integration would occur out of love for the Savior if the hearts of men were pure. Though I do whole-heartedly agree with this notion, I also feel that the hearts of men need prompting – and teaching this truth may not be as effective as demonstration. If a congregation sees spoken convictions come to physical fruition in the form of diverse leadership, then prompting the hearts of men is an easier mountain to scale. One must realize that the monumental battle we fight is not with societal structure; rather, it is with the inner-most assumptions and beliefs of the individuals that make up our society. It is a battle of wills. Though we have moved beyond the devastation of a racism-laden America, we are still the distant offspring of racist thought. Sadly, there are microscopic pieces of the former-America deeply seeded in our spirits. Do not be mistaken, it is not disgustingly obvious like it once was. You must look deep to find the fragmented traces of racial intolerance, but the search for comfortable segregation is far less difficult, especiallly on Sunday mornings. The condition of the heart is the root of all problems because of man’s innate depravity. But…truth can triumph over depravity. Truth must triumph over depravity.

       The brief time I was blessed to experience with Reverend Richard Gaines of Consolidated Baptist Church proved to be a milestone in my young life. My soul’s yearnings were finally heard and justified by a voice much louder and wiser than mine. I pray that our paths will one day cross again in pursuit of the same goal. Alongside Reverend Gaines, I refuse to believe that we were made to celebrate Christ divided. Only our God can repair this historic mistrust, but we must be willing to see God accomplish it through us. I am moved by the name of Reverend Gaines’ assembly – Consolidated. To consolidate… is to bring together separate parts into a single or unified whole – to combine, to unite. Our calling as God’s people is no less.

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8 Responses

  1. excellent clarity in that post… solid.

    I’ll be honest, I never really knew why the church was named Consolidated. Actually, I never even thought about what that word means until now…Thanks for that clarity… But I am proud that you can’t spell consolidated without the word solid. Solid, indeed have these posts been (listening to his heart and yours on the issue). – – – I do want to bring up an older question though: Remember back in the first post when you mentioned going into Consolidated and being the only white guy –> it seems odd that if a passionate pastor like Gaines was leading the church then this issue wouldn’t be so extreme in his own congregation. I was just wondering if he has preached on the issue on a Sunday morning? In sum, what I’m trying to say is that this topic/discussion/issue/post -whatever you wanna call it – has been very good. But it would break my heart if these thoughts and spirit-filled comments went no further than the web pages we write on. We should talk to others about this (I know a few of us sometimes do), but what about the average church goer > What are your thoughts on how to strike up a conversation about this issue with others who may not see it, or may even deny it?

  2. Great point.

    Reverend Gaines and I met my divine intervention. There was also divine happenstance in a trip that he took to New York just weeks before our meeting. He had gone to the Brooklyn Tabernacle (an extremely diverse body of believers) and return inspired to see the body that he shepards reflect the Kingdom of God as well. Then Smitty shows up with all these questions. It was absurdly ironic. I say all of that to tell you that I believe Reverend Gaines is at the starting line of this mission…as am I.

    Taylor…you are right in that this conversation means nothing without an attempt to see it come to fruition. I have some ideas that I believe are from the Lord. We should get together and talk about them.

  3. Smitty, I agree with nearly everything you say in this post. The one exception is that I don’t think we are the distant offspring of a racially intolerant society. Racism is, as you well know, not the simple and open hatred espoused by white supremacy groups or their ilk. Racism, specifically in America, is right below the surface of so many sociological and economic issues. One need only survey the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to see clearly how unlevel the playing field is, so to speak. It is true that middle-class minorities have largely put the stigmas of their race behind them and joined middle-class white America in a semi-diverse conglomeration of largely color-blind citizens. However, at lower economic levels, much is as it has been for the past fifty years. Disparities in income due to educationally discriminatory practices have made curbing inner city crime nearly impossible and seen the drug epidemic an unstoppable force. It is true that today, the POSSIBILITY of ascension above the murky social quagmire below the poverty line is greater now than ever before, but the odds do not stack in the favor of the hundreds of thousands of poor kids (black, white, hispanic, oriental or otherwise) who wallow in unsatisfactory conditions in schools and at home across the country. There is a reason these problems remain even as so much of society progresses to new levels of prosperity. Undoubtedly, the practice of the Gospel from a social perspective will drive any future change in the unification of the Church racially, socially, and economically. Theology informs the way we think, Christ informs the way we act. Christ always comes first.

  4. I hear you saying that we are not “distant offspring”, rather we are the “first born” due to the 21st century’s societal realities. I agree.

    Where I didn’t make myself as clear is the fact that I think Americans have moved past a direct, unapologized discrimination. This is not to say that our societal structures and norms do not still resemble ethnocentrism at its finest. But if you approached one hundred people in various places across the US, 99 of them will tell you that they have no feelings of racism. It is perplexing that we have, for the most part, arrived at this place intellectually, yet nothing has been done about the social “playing field.”

    My conviction is this…When the church validates its claim by living in actual, physical harmony, you will see society follow. Not because the church is leading the culture, but because the church will demand a change in the culture.

  5. I’m just asking for one last chance to get linked up…. I won’t let you down again… maybe. I miss you buddy, it’s ridiculous that we live in the same town and don’t see each other…. let’s remedy this situation.

  6. keep postin’ bro!

  7. “If a congregation sees spoken convictions come to physical fruition in the form of diverse leadership, then prompting the hearts of men is an easier mountain to scale.”

    I love this man. God has been flooding my life with diversity and unity of the body of christ, no matter what the culture/ethnicity/race. I’m so glad that I’ve come back into the blogging community to a post like this.

    check out my post “diversity day” for more info on what God’s doin with me

  8. sorry that last post was me, but i’m not used to this wordpress stuff

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