Thursday, January 21, 2016

Black History Month | City Notes 23 | Letters to a Birmingham Jail Part 2 of 3

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

City Notes 23: Books in 30 minutes or less

City Notes are more than a book review. They are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 

And for February, the City Notes for Letters to a Birmingham Jail help bring focus to Black History Month

Letters to a Birmingham Jail Edited by Bryan Loritts Review of Quotes | City Notes 22: Part 2 of 3


A Painful Joyful Journey | Dr. Crawford Loritts: Author, Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, Visiting Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities

I am a child of the great migration. Between the early 1900s until about 1970, millions of African Americans left the South and flooded cities like New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They were tired of the oppressive segregation (Jim Crow) and they were looking for jobs that provided more opportunity for their families. In 1942 Crawford and Sylvia Loritts (my parents) moved from North Carolina to Newark, New Jersey. ... for the first twelve years of my life we lived in what was then called the central ward. Little did I know that the environment in which I grew up would serve as the context in which I would minister for now more than forty years. Serving in diverse, multiethnic contexts is not abnormal to me. It was how I grew up. The central ward of the 1950s and early 60s was a diverse, working-class community. On the first floor of our apartment building lived the Philibaccus family. They were Greek and we all did birthday parties together. I went to school with and played with John Sangiovanni, Rocco Bonaviture, Lloyd Cotton, and Freddie Gains, to name a few. We did more than hang out together; we were in each other's homes. One of my dad's best friends was a man named O'Sullivan. I don't remember his first name. We called him Uncle Sully. He was Irish. Growing up during those formative years, I never thought I had to make a choice as to who my friends should be. Virtually everything I did was integrated except for church.” – pgs. 76-77

"I was an African American teenager trying to put all of this together and figure it out. I was captured by King's message of love and his refusal to respond with hate and violence. I was struck by the prayer meetings held by many who were a part of the movement, asking God for freedom and substantive change in race relations in this country. ... During these teenage years, I fell in love with the Word of God. The more I read it, the more I was captured by God's description of the church and what it should be and represent in the world. I was drawn to Jesus' prayer in John 17 where He pleaded with His Father that we, His followers, would be unified. Ephesians chapter 2 was like a powerful magnet pulling me back time and again to the apostle Paul's compelling description and vision of God's church, a reconciled community. I felt a growing conviction in my heart that unity and reconciliation were not some mystical concepts but should be a reality. What if God really meant us to visibly demonstrate the unity of His church? What would it look like? Would I be willing to do this? Again, this calling, this vision, began to wrap itself around my imagination and my heart. Interestingly enough, Dr. King's emphasis on love and integration fueled this vision in me. By the time I was sixteen, there were two things that I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing: 1) Preaching the Word of God, and 2) serving in a context in which the unity of the body of Christ would be demonstrated. It is that second thing that has proven to be the most costly and painful and at the same time the most rewarding. At this stage in my life, it is a great source of joy." – pgs. 79-81

"The church of Jesus Christ ... should have been the prophetic, moral leader for justice and the reformation of society. Instead we were silent and waited for the government to take the initiative. Now, to be sure the Bible teaches that the government does exist for the well-being of the people; but too many Christians got lock-jaw, saying very little or nothing when in fact the country needed the engagement of the church and a word from God. Silence and business as usual did severe damage to our prophetic integrity. We've made progress but our efforts are still woefully inadequate. Until we come to the place where we see ethnic diversity as more than a strategy, emphasis, or an occasional feature in our e-magazines, we will always be playing catch-up." – pgs. 85-86

"God had to teach me that it is not my job to put anybody in their place or to prove to anybody how valid, competent, and worthy black people are. I had to stop carrying stuff that God never meant for me to shoulder. I had to do my best because I was being faithful to the Lord and not trying to prove a point or send a message. God hammered away on me about this. But, bless His name, He set me free. It took tears, failures, and almost burnout to embrace the message. I came to realize that this was a not so subtle form of racism and, in a weird way, a form of idolatry. It was sin and I needed to repent. If I was going to experience the fulfillment of the dream God had placed on my heart, then I needed to let God do it and stop being a roadblock to the very thing I desperately wanted to see God do. In this regard, the problem was not white people or black people. Crawford hat to let God clean up his heart and motives. Once I dealt with this I began to experience God's blessing and favor. I still faced heartache, challenges, and frustrations, but God forged in my heart a conviction that the only burden that I needed to carry was the one that God placed on my shoulders. And even that burden needed to be given back to Him." – pg. 87

"I also found rich, wonderful encouragement from Tom Skinner. Tom was, in many respects, a prophetic voice calling all of evangelicalism, especially our white brothers, to live out the values of the kingdom of God. He spoke of becoming the just, reconciled people of God. His was a fresh voice of hope with which so many of us could identify. He offered a vision of inclusion anchored in the truth of the gospel that called the church to both face and repent of its racism. He spoke of any degree of racial exclusion as violating the integrity of the gospel. This emphases made many white evangelicals uncomfortable because it challenged the personal, privatized brand of Christianity that dominated the landscape of evangelicalism at the time. Some were fearful of anything that spoke of the church's corporate responsibility with regard to justice and the need to model the ethnic diversity of the gospel. Back then they were afraid to be labeled as proponents of the 'social gospel' (an unfortunate carryover from the fundamentalist/liberal controversy that gave birth to modern evangelicalism). Skinner believed that the white evangelical branch of the church needed to step forward and offer the transforming hope of the gospel to all of the issues facing us, including race and justice. For the most part, white evangelicals had been deafeningly silent throughout the civil rights struggle. Doesn't God have something to say about justice and freedom? Tom Skinner was relentless in this emphasis, speaking both with undeniable clarity and courage. And it cost him. He lost support but he never lost his message. Tragically, Tom Skinner died at age fifty-two, a young man. So many of us stand on his shoulders. Not long ago I said to our son, Bryan, 'You know, today a lot of us say the very same things that Tom said with just as much passion and force and yet with nowhere near the reaction and push-back he got.' In fact, I'm encouraged by the progress that's been made and the growing number of voices speaking for authentic reconciliation and justice. But it took men like Tom Skinner and John Perkins to stand in lonely places and speak and live hard, uncommon truth for God to get the attention of a frightened, accommodating church. The church of Jesus Christ, in these United States, owes these men a profound debt of gratitude. They, too, had been influenced by Martin Luther King Jr. Thank you, Dr. King." – pgs. 89-90

"At sixty-four I'm thinking more about helping to influence and shape the next generation. Both of our sons are pastors and they lead ethnically diverse churches. We share the vision of modeling the kingdom. I find myself mentoring an ever-increasing group of this next generation who are called to live and minister in ethnically diverse contexts. I look at these young men and women and I confess the tears trickle down my cheeks, and I bow in humble praise to God that He kept me from walking away from a calling that at times was painful and frustrating. Oh, the joy and the privilege of hearing them say in so many words, 'We got it and we will take it from here.' I don't feel as alone and out of sync as I did in those early years. I don't struggle with questions like, 'Have I abandoned my people?' or 'Do they think I'm too white or too black?' I've concluded that at a point those are superficial, unnecessary questions. I can appreciate my heritage and love all people, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ. Who says we have to make a choice? God has given us the joy, privilege, and power to do both." – pgs. 91-92

Don't Do It Again | Dr. John Bryson: Co-Founder and Pastor of Fellowship Memphis; Fellowship Associates Church Planting Coach

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multi-ethnic Network of Missional Communities
I thought that I was well-versed in diversity, but I discovered in seminary that there was much to be learned as I talked with my African-American brothers about race, justice, and the gospel. Taking the posture of a learner, I benefited from their rebukes and encouragement as they 'schooled' me, helping me see that racial ignorance is a luxury of the majority culture. Today I minister with these same brothers. We are moving forward united. While the church has much to do in the way of change, none of us wants to be guilty of doing it again: remaining silent when a brother is in need. Turning a blind eye to injustice when a brother's dignity is threatened. Asking a brother to wait when his very life is at stake. We are intentional in our actions and words, as we war against all that hinders God's kingdom and its fullest expression. Thank you for the legacy of Christian service you have passed on to us. I'm exceedingly grateful. Pastor John Bryson

"As they settled in Harlan, Kentucky in 1969, my parents made a pledge to themselves that would be considered bold now and was for sure bold in 1969; they would not give their energies to anything that was not interracial, interdenominational, and offering life change through Jesus. They wanted to intentionally raise their kids in an environment of diversity and go to war against racism. They wanted to be unifiers and reconcilers. And they wanted a new normal for their kids." – pg. 96

"In one of her first weeks in her new Kentucky town, my mother went to an evening church service. An African American lady shared her journey with cancer and sang a song. As Shirley Raglin was sharing and singing, the Spirit of God impressed upon my mother this phrase, 'She is your sister.' 'She is your sister.' My mother was not quite sure what to do with that leading, but she found herself knocking on Shirley's door later that week and being welcomed into her home. Shirley was the wife of James Raglin, pastor of the largest African-American church in our town, and the mother of seven children. Her body was being ravaged by cancer and constant medical treatments. My mother came alongside her at this time and their friendship was birthed in the soil of my mother cooking meals for Shirley, helping her clean her home, and helping her with the laundry. The two of them shared stories, shared life, and prayed together. In the early and mid-1970s people from both communities in our small town were intrigued and amazed that this black family and white family shared meals together, were in each other's homes, and did life together. ... In 1978, Shirley died of cancer and left Pastor Jim with seven kids, all under eighteen years of age. Shirley had asked my parents in her final days if they would take into our family her two youngest, Darrin and Shana. As a ten-year-old, I was now part of a racially and culturally mixed family. Race entered my life and blessed; race also entered and hurt. Months after Darrin and Shana had become a party of our family, several matriarchs of the African American community voiced a concern that it was wrong for black children to be raised by white parents. They confronted my mother, and in a heart-wrenching decision she still questions to this day, Darrin and Shana left our home." – pgs. 96-97

"Reconciliation and bridge building is messy, be it organizationally, culturally, or relationally. It is not for the faint of heart. There are tough calls and it can often feel like three steps forward and two steps back. Perseverance is crucial.– pg. 98

"Displacement is the experience of being in a culture not your own. Most minorities in America experience displacement every day. Many majority culture men and women never experience displacement. For those who do experience it, they discover that it can be disorienting, uncomfortable, and even frightening. It can also be powerfully redemptive and even great fun, if you experience it humbly, as a learner, with respect, and not ridicule or judgment. ... Intentionality is a nonnegotiable for those with a heart for reconciliation." – pgs. 98-99

"Though my experiences had been diverse throughout my first twenty-five years of life, my thinking about race, the gospel, and church – my racial IQ if you will – was typical for a majority culture, white American ... pitifully low. It used to be true of me and is true for most of my white brothers and sisters in Christ. We can talk on college and graduate school levels when it comes to issues of justification, sanctification, ecclesiology, soteriology, etc., but when it comes to issues of the gospel and race, sadly and embarrassingly, many of us stumble like first graders. Racial ignorance is a luxury of the majority culture. We really must be willing to place ourselves in the posture of a learner. God used a number of influencers to shape my thinking about race. Through my relationships with D'hati Lewis and James Roberson, another African American who had come to study in Denton, I was led into great discussions and honest conversations about race, the gospel, and the church. Another major influence was James White, and African American who mentored me. I'm so thankful for men like Eric Mason, Bryan Lorrits, and many others who have continued to press into me on issues of the gospel, race, and the church. I'm so glad these men had the courage to be honest with me, challenge me, rebuke me, and force me to learn. I remember late nights, sitting in a booth in 'The Cup' in Denton, Texas, getting a flat-out education from James Roberson on race. James helped me understand terms and phrases like majority culture, white privilege, and the ridiculous position of 'color blindness' that, sadly, so many majority culture men and women hold on to as a virtue! I'm so glad that George Yancey has written all that he has written on the subject of racial reconciliation, and that Bryan Loritts had our staff team in the early days of Fellowship Memphis read books like James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, W.E. B Dubois's The Souls of Black Folk, and a biography of Malcolm X. Taking the posture of a learner, engaging in friendships with people different from me, and reading history and various perspectives has been a grace to me and has grown me in incredible ways. I'm not where I want to be when it comes to my 'Racial IQ,' but by becoming a learner and exposing myself to relationships and books, I am making good progress. As my posture of learning has increased my 'Racial IQ,' it has only furthered my heart and passion to be a unifier and racial reconciler." – pgs. 100-101

"I decided that if I ever had the chance to start a ministry or business or organization from scratch, I'd be intentional about making sure diversity was in its DNA and minority leadership at all the decision-making tables would be a nonnegotiable. It is incredible to look back now and see all that God was stirring in those waters of the college town of Denton. It was there that Lecrae came to Christ and met Ben Washer (a white guy) and together formed Reach Records. Michael 'Stew' Stewart got his leadership start that would blossom into a diversified 'Verge' movement. Dave Furman got a vision for the nations and went to plant a church in the middle of Dubai. Little did we know that our 'wrestling' in those days would bear fruit a decade later." – pg. 102

"We had deep desires to see the gospel work itself out in such a way – both in our church and in our city of Memphis, the second most segregated city in America, miles from where Dr. King was assassinated – that racial healing happened. We begged God in our prayers to make us a church family made up of people across racial, cultural, ethnic, generational, and socioeconomic lines. We wanted the gospel to bring together what humanity so frequently segregates. At that point we had vision, but very little strategy to attempt to make that vision a reality. I felt deeply that a diverse church would not happen apart from diversity in our leadership from the beginning. We began to pray for diversity in our leadership, launch team, and in our church. Two white guys (Ben Parkinson and I) and an Asian American (Tony Kim) started looking for an African American with gifts of leadership and preaching to move to Memphis and labor with us. I called four mentors and asked them this question, 'Who is the best under forty leader and preacher you know of in the church world?' All four mentioned the name Bryan Loritts. ... I will spare you all the joy and pain of the early years of church planting. Raising money, recruiting a launch team, getting vision down on paper, creating doctrinal statements, building relationships, looking for places to meet, looking for places to office, everything to do and nothing to do; it peaks every emotion and surfaces every idol. Church planting seemed difficult enough, adding to our vision a body that would be a family of rich and poor, young and old, black, white and other seemed incredibly daunting and incredibly right! We had no idea how to do this and could not, not do this. We cried out to the Lord for help and He answered." – pgs. 105-106

"I believe from Genesis to Revelation that God is the God of all nations and all peoples. He created all things, including all peoples, all people groups, all races, and all skin colors. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, you see God redeeming all people to Himself. John 3:16 tells us God sent Jesus because 'God so loved the world.' The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the earliest church plants. The gospel-dominated people of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spilled over into the launching of gospel communities, or church plants in Acts. Racial and cultural issues surfaced almost immediately. Jesus had actually been the one to begin stirring this post in His ministry as He intentionally went to Samaria, and did all sorts of things with and for Gentiles that Jewish men were not supposed to do. As early as Acts 6 an issue arose in the church concerning the neglect of the Hellenistic widows. The Jewish widows were cared for while the culturally Greek, Jewish widows are not. Side note: I am so glad that the early apostles did not start a separate Hellenistic church or service to deal with the issues in the Hellenistic, widow community! By Acts 10 and 11, Peter, a racial, ethnic, and cultural Jew, was struggling with this whole new Jesus vision of a church that included Jews and Gentiles. Jesus helped him by giving him a dream that let him know that in this 'new normal' Peter could eat Gentile food. He began reaching toward relating to, ministering to, and eating with Gentiles. Pass the ribs! (I choose to believe Rendezvous Ribs was planted between Acts 8 and Acts 9, but I may be off.) Then some of his old friends called Peter on it, questioned him about this practice, and Peter, forgetting the gospel, slipped back into old racial habits and stopped fellowshipping with Gentiles. It is fascinating to me and a game changer how Paul confronts Peter over this decision. ... 'when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?' (Galatians 2:11-14). ... Paul here makes issues of race, culture, and favoritism at its core a gospel issue. It is inconsistent with the gospel for believers to lift up the name of Jesus with one hand and hold on to racial attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, or actions in the other hand. The gospel will dominate a person and part of the reconstruction of that person will be a reorienting of our view of everything, including race. In light of this Acts incident and Galatians confrontation by Paul, it adds even more volume to what Peter himself would later write in 1 Peter 2:9-10: 'But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession ... ' How is that for gospel and racial growth in the life of Peter! He now describes gospel-transformed people as a 'chosen race.' One race. A new race. Peter argues the gospel replaces my race, my culture and ethnicity as the primary identifier of my life. John's vision of heaven in both Revelation 5 and 7 mentions seeing a great multitude of people from every tongue, tribe, nation, and language. Heaven's description includes nice meals, great parties, and worship of God. I believe in those Revelation moments when we are having meals and parties together, and people from every tongue, tribe, nation, and people group are singing songs together to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We are not going to care whether we are singing an Israel Houghton song, a Chris Tomlin song, or a John Wesley song. I believe we are not going to care if we are accompanied by a Hammond B-3, an acoustic guitar, an organ, or a jug (shout out to Kentucky). Why? Because the object of our worship will so consume us, the means through which we worship is secondary at best. If you do not like the diverse church, you are going to hate heaven.– pgs. 106-107

"Even as our country's population trends toward a majority-minority population, power structures, boardrooms, leadership positions, and wealth are deeply tilted toward whites and always have been in our country. Our white ancestors structured laws to make sure of that. As one author notes, 'America was stolen from one people and built on the backs of another people.' Ugly parts of American history need to be owned, acknowledged, and out to lead us to ask for forgiveness and repent (Nehemiah models that for us). I beg my white brothers and sisters to not only be honest about history but repent of any racial tendencies that rise within them. Every Christian is a recovering racist from one degree to another. But there is more. Way more. Go on a mission trip to step out of racial ignorance and raise your racial IQ. Pursue relationships with people different from you who will talk deeply and honestly with you about issues of race. Wrestle deeply with how you might steward your white privilege for the benefit of others. Put yourself and your kids in places where they are 'displaced.' Place yourself under minority leadership. Educate yourself on the veiled racial code that has become the norm (the dark side of 'political correctness') and on systemic issues of injustice. Strive beyond 'I'm not racist' to become an antiracist.' And finally, if you are a fellow brother in church leadership, church planting, or in organizational leadership, please develop a theology of race. Please relate deeply with minorities and those different from you. A diverse life precedes a diverse organization or church. You cannot reproduce what you are not. Please allow minority leaders into positions of power with you to make decisions for and speak into positions of power with you to make decisions for and speak into whatever is being created or led. Don't just wish your organization was diverse: do something about it. Please read deeply and widely on issues of race. Please read authors of color. Become a learner. Understand the consequences of being in the majority culture. It dupes us into believing that our normal is normal, and worse, makes us a judge of any cultural differences that are different from our own. Please stop thinking there is one black opinion on things, one Hispanic position, one Asian way of thought, etc. There are millions of people in every people group with millions of positions, ideas, reasons for doing things. I need grace when it comes to the gospel and race. We all need grace. God help us." – pgs. 109-110

Why We Can't Wait for the Multiethnic Church | Bryan Loritts: Pastor of Preaching and Mission for Trinity Grace ChurchFounder of Kainos Movement

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Acts 29 Soma 3DM Christian Reformed Church Transcultural Kingdom Multiethnic Network of Missional Communities

Reflecting on your letter, I am drawn to your commentary about the indifference and passivity of the white moderate who pleaded with you to "slow down and wait" and criticized you for being "religiously in a hurry" while black men hung as strange fruit from Southern trees. While many things have changed, there are some things that to a degree remain the same. I believe that as we move forward, toward the future, we do so still fighting indifference and passivity. This is evident in the pleas of our Christian brothers who ask children of the oppressed to just preach the gospel instead of addressing social issues such as racial and economic inequality. In many ways, I have stubbed my toe against this brick of passivity most of my life. Thankfully, God has used these painful moments to break, heal, and grow me in my service to Him and others. Your desire was to see that old brick of passivity toppled in the name of Jesus Christ. It's also my desire. As I engage Christian brothers to see the body of Christ unified and more multiethnic churches born, I do so believing that living together in one accord, we will see this brick removed for good. Thank you for your persistence. Carrying the Cross, Pastor Bryan Loritts

"King was not most put off by burning crosses, biting dogs, or the thunderous explosions of water being turned on little kids marching in the streets. What agitated him the most was the indifference of his seminary trained, gospel preaching colleagues, who wanted King to just slow down for a moment while black men continued to hang as 'strange fruit' from Southern trees. Given the nature of his relationship with the Jewish Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who accompanied King in his quest for equality, one cannot help but conclude that as Dr. King wrote this letter he had Heschel's words pounding in the back of his head that the only thing worse than the evil of injustice is indifference."  pg. 114

"I did feel a nonexistence like what Ralph Ellison described in his groundbreaking book, Invisible Man. Ellison's depiction of the black man in the era of Jim Crow is masterful. The lead character has no name. Why would it matter if he had a name when all he's known as is boy or some racial slur? Ellison's point is that identity doesn't matter when you don't even have a place at the table. It is the inhumanity of anonymity. I don't know what's like to have German shepherds unleashed on you in the streets of Birmingham, but I do know the feeling of anonymity one has as he takes his seat in the halls of white evangelicalism. It didn't take me long to figure out that I was Ellison's Invisible Man."  pg. 117

"If your community has various ethnicities and your church is not actively taking steps toward all of them, then I think we have ventured into an area of sin. Both white flight and passive indifference to the diverse faces around our church are an affront to the eclectic gospel of Jesus Christ. Lord forgive us. There are three wonderful truths about the multiethnic church that I want to share with you. These truths have shaped my life. I have discovered that: 1) The multiethnic church is a visible demonstration of the power of the gospel; 2) The multiethnic church is a witness to a diverse society; and 3) The multiethnic church is an instrument of healing." – pgs. 120-121

"Whenever Paul entered into a city to establish a new gospel outpost, he always had two questions: 1) Where is the synagogue (because he wanted to preach to the Jews); and 2) Where do the Gentiles hang out? When Paul was in Ephesus, he went to the hall of Tyrannus; in Athens he hiked up Mars Hill. To the Jew and Gentile alike, Paul preached Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected. Some Jews believed this gospel, and so did some Gentiles. What Paul did next is instructive. Did he start a church on one side of town for the Gentiles, and another church on the opposite side of town for the Jews? This would seem to make sense given the fact that the two never really had any meaningful exchanges. But while this would have been culturally comfortable, Paul knew that the gospel demanded more. So Paul did the completely countercultural thing: he placed both ethnicities in one church and called upon them to do life with one another in meaningful ways. That's right. The norm in the first-century church was multiethnic. ... What's more is that Paul's understanding of the gospel not only impacted his church planting strategies, it also created a new paradigm for how he personally did community. In very biographical terms, Paul invites us into his circle of friendships in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, and what we see is that Paul has an eclectic community. He has Jewish friends and Gentile friends, quite the scandal in the first-century world. But his reasoning for his eclectic community is simple: he does it all for the sake of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:23).– pgs. 121-122
"Congress cannot legislate hearts. The Senate cannot heal hurts. The Supreme Court cannot demand the restoration of relationships. Essentially, Washington, DC, cannot dress the greatest wound that continues to plague our nation: racism. But I know of a Great Physician who can cure what ails us. I know a Suffering Servant by whose stripes we are healed. There is no pain that Christ cannot heal, and God has ordained that the instrument of healing would be His bride, the church of the resurrected Savior! It is the crucified Christ who has delegated the church to be His recovery room. I am a witness to the power of the multiethnic church to heal our afflictions and wounds, specifically the wound of racism. My friend Larry Acosta says that we hurt in isolation but heal in community. I found this to be true for me. My pathway out of darkness did not come by reading books, or even reading Scripture. It ultimately came by me allowing myself to be loved by the very ones I did not like. I know this past sentence causes some to wince, but it's true. And it's a biblical principle. When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, He knew that He was dealing with twelve men who had been culturally conditioned to look down on those who were ethnically different from them – people like the Samaritans, Canaanites, and the Gentiles in general. This was a bit of a problem because Jesus was going to call them to take the gospel to the world. So their prejudice – and dare I say racism – needed to be dealt with. But exactly what did Jesus prescribe for their racism? He didn't just say read this book, or listen to My teaching. No, Jesus knew that was not enough. What these men, needed were meaningful experiences with the other. They needed to get up close and personal with the very ones they despised. So Jesus arranged for a field trip to Samaria. He let them witness a conversation with a Canaanite woman. Jesus sent Peter to stay in the home of a man who worked with dead animals (a job no respectable Jew would take on, which means Simon is in all likelihood a Gentile). He plopped Philip down in a chariot right next to a black man in Acts chapter 8. Paul hiked up Mars Hill and was surrounded by the Greek intelligentsia of his day. And when old man racisms reared its head in Peter again, God saw to it that Paul's confrontation with him would be recorded for all of human history to witness. God's means of healing racism in our hearts is through shared experiences with the very people we are prejudiced against.– pgs. 125-126

"To his grave King remained hopeful, refusing to allow the pain of racism to be translated into bitterness and hate. If anyone had an excuse to give up, it would have been Dr. King. The mass of hate mail he received, the threats on his life, abuse from certain government agencies, the please of passive clergy, and a myriad of other reasons would've made his early exit more than understandable. Yet King continued to fight, armed solely with the weapon of love. So what kept hatred from claiming King? Any investigation into what drove Dr. King would cause one to quickly answer that he believed in the Christian ethic of love for one's enemies. ... his biblical commitment to loving his enemies is unquestioned. This was not just something he preached, it's how he lived. King's commitment to his theological convictions was helped by the company that he kept." – pgs. 128-129

"External change, without internal transformation, breeds hypocrisy (see the Pharisees), and will leave a nation stubbing its toe against the same brick of racism. That's where the church must rise up. When she functions on all cylinders, she becomes an unstoppable force that God uses to change hearts, and now the stage is set for even more progress. The multiethnic church becomes even more valuable, because part of the very thing Christians seek to accomplish outside her walls (here I'm speaking in terms of horizontal reconciliation), they are experiencing in real time within her walls, and around her dinner tables. The vessels of healing are experiencing healing themselves. How can the church speak with any authenticity against racism, systemic poverty, and injustice if within her homogenous ranks are just the rich, or just blacks. But it's when the multiethnic (and I should add, the multiclass) church speaks out that now we add credibility to the very message we proclaim in the eyes of the world. If the torrential force of the first church as found in the book of Acts is to become our twenty-first-century reality, then the faces of most of our churches must look like the faces of the first-century church: multiethnic.– pgs. 129-130

Some additional Multi-Ethnic Church and Transcultural Kingdom resources and reflections:

| 1  Recommended Books:  

1. NIV God's Justice Bible: The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil 
2. The Mission of God's People: A Biblical Theology of the Church's Mission by Christopher J.H. Wright 
3. The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rah 
4. Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God is at the Center by Noel Castellanos 
5. Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield  
+ City (Cliff) Notes Part 1 of 32 of 3and 3 of 3 for Assimilate or Go Home 
6. Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by Brenda Salter McNeil 
7. Is the Bible Good for Women?: Seeking Clarity and Confidence Through a Jesus-Centered Understanding of Scripture by Wendy Alsup 
8. Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Martin Luther King Jr. by Bryan Loritts  
+ City (Cliff) Notes Part 1 of 32 of 3and 3 of 3 for Letters to a Birmingham Jail  
9. Friendship at the Margins: Discovering Mutuality in Service and Mission by Christopher L. Heuertz and Christine D. Pohl 
10. Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation by Mark Deymaz  
+ City (Cliff) Notes Part 1 of 3, 2 of 3, and 3 of 3 of Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church 
11. The Justice Calling: Where Passion Meets Perseverance by Bethany Hanke Hoang and and Kristen Deede Johnson  
+ Introduction Part 1 of 2 and 2 of 2
12. Welcoming Justice: God's Movement Toward Beloved Community by Charles Marsh and John M. Perkins 

| 2  Recommended Conferences Blog Posts Notes

| 3  A Sample of Initial Practices for Emmaus City Church

1. We regularly pray for other churches in Worcester during Emmaus City services of worship, including churches led by ethnic minority pastors who are friends like Christian Community Church (Pastor Jose Encarnacion), Belmont A.M.E. Zion (Pastor Clyde Talley), The Bridge Church (Pastor Ritchie Gonzalez), and more. 
2.  We intentionally recognize and honor the pastors above as seasoned mentors we can learn from in how they declare and demonstrate the Gospel in Worcester. 
3. We intentionally quote ethnic minority pastors and theologians from throughout history in sermons as key leaders who provide us with insight we need to hear and consider about the great Gospel of Jesus for people from every tribe, tongue, nation. 
4. We are intentional in prayerfully and financially partnering with ethnic minority-led church plants in urban settings like Restoration Community Church (Pastor Rich Rivera, South Bronx), Epiphany Fellowship Camden (Pastor Ernie Grant, Camden), Epiphany Baltimore (Pastor Charlie Mitchell and Pastor Trevor Chin, Baltimore), Cruciform Church (Pastor David Rosa Jr., Miami), Epiphany Church Wilmington (Pastor Derrick Parks), and more. 
5. We have the pastors who live closest above come, preach for us, and have their families stay with us in our homes (Pastor Rich Rivera preached for us in May 2017, Pastor Ernie Grant preached for us in November 2017). 
6. We commit to going to and highly recommending ethnic minority-led conferences like Thriving's Frequency Conference in Philadelphia (2017 will be the 5th year straight). 
7. We are intentional in learning and singing songs in our services that are not majority culture songs and/or focus on God's righteousness and justice like Que Seas El Autor by Urban Doxology, Awesome by Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago, Break Every Chain and Fill Me Up by Tasha Cobb, Heal Us by Indelible Grace and Blessing Offor, Most High God by Kofi Thompson and Crown of Glory, I'll Say Yes by Shirley Caesar, Let Justice Roll by Sojourn, The Worship Medley by Tye Tribbett, and more. 
8. We set up residencies to invite ethnic-minority leaders to help inform us, serve our city, and grow with us. 
9. We continue to read books and learn from articles that focus on a more robust history of the Church than is often taught in white-led and captive seminaries (ex. The Faith of Our Fathers: Reclaiming the (North AfricanChurch Fathers" by Jason O. Evans; How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity by Thomas C. Oden; Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Bryan Loritts; The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege by Ken Wytmsa; Welcoming Justice: God's Movement Toward Beloved Community (Resources for Reconciliation) by Dr. Charles Marsh and Dr. John Perkins; Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil; "Freeing the Captive Church" by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah; "A Life of Conversations" with Richard Twiss; "Are You Starting an Urban Church Plant or Plantation?" by Dr. Christena Cleveland; "How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently" by Kate Shellnutt, etc.). 
10. We continue to pray and cry out to God to bring His righteousness and justice to Worcester, and to give us the privilege to be a church that is not only for Worcester, but in and of Worcester, as He continues to shape us to be more like Jesus in the city.

Next post: Black History Month | City Notes 23 | Letters to a Birmingham Jail Part 3 of 3

Christ is all,

+ Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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