The events of the past three weeks have thrust us into the often uncomfortable conversation about race. Many White people, protected by our status as the “norm” of American society, have not had to navigate racial landmines every day as people of color do. So when a landmine blows up and a conversation is thrust upon us, we don’t quite know how to react or what to say, or even what to do. It’s safe to say that Americans are all over the map, in our thinking, our attitudes, our experiences, etc.
ABC is uniquely positioned to have a conversation about race. We have been a multi-racial church for over 40 years, long, long before it was popular or sought after by other churches. We have loved each other across racial lines, shared our lives, and walked our faith journey side by side. We have actual, long-term interracial relationships that so many other Americans do not. This difficult conversation may be hard for us, but it can be unworkable for people who do not have deep ties.
We are all processing our experiences. Here is a link to an article written by Emy Reitz. She, along with her husband, Ed, and two children, were part of ABC’s fabric for decades until they moved to Hemet. Ed was Assistant Pastor here, Emy was a deacon, their two children grew up here—they were embedded in ABC’s community life. Emy writes about some of her own experiences as an immigrant, as a Filipina, which have opened a window for her to the much worse experience of Black people.
In pondering, and talking and praying, ABCers have expressed the need for more processing; for conversations that take us somewhere—give us more insight into the Black American experience, give us direction…So we know we need to listen to each other—most especially, lighter-skinned folk need to listen to darker-skinned folk. We need to ask a lot of questions, some of which may be painful and difficult. We need to explore how racism is internalized and practiced. We need to ‘do something,’ to discover a pathway of action together. It may just be that God has put us together for this moment. As Paula DeVaughn, chair of our Black History Committee put it, “Remember we are a beacon to the world…little old ABC.”
The New Testament church was no stranger to our modern race conversations. The apostle Paul wrote: “For Christ Jesus is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us” (Eph. 2:14). We live in a society where new bricks are added to that dividing wall every day. It’s time to live out the ‘sacrificed in his flesh’ peace of Jesus among ourselves and to work at taking the bricks down.
– Pastor Connie Larson DeVaughn