The violence in Charlottesville, Virginia was another chapter of a climate that exists in our country and today’s worship gatherings were opportunities for church leaders to call evil by its name. Boundaries of ethnicity and culture continue to permeate our country. In our own lives and in many of our churches there is an absence of diversity and inclusion. Right now, we are being called to bring light into the darkness, examine our stories, and heal the open wounds of ethnic boundaries separating our relationships with each other, our communities and the nation.
On Saturday, we witnessed in real time the unfolding tragedy of one community in the midst of re-writing their own story. The removal of a Robert E. Lee memorial brought many to rally against the change. Did they come to commit violence and disrupt this town, armed with torches, shields, helmets, and homemade weapons? Before the day ended, three Americans lost their lives and many were injured.
The city of Charlottesville decided over one year ago to re-write history and “tell the true story of race in their city”. This new story has no room for symbols of racism, bigotry and hate.
Virginia’s Governor, Terry McAuliffe said to White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists “This is not our story, we will write our own story.” I believe his words give us all permission to break the silence.
Today, there are many critical questions for church ministries to answer. Are you bringing people together across ethnic lines? What is the story of your church? I am prayerful pastors around the country will continue to interrupt the comfort of their worship to acknowledge the need of the church to speak words of unity, be “the salt of the earth” and “the change we want to see in the world”.
Our nation, our towns, and our churches are in a State of Emergency. Just as Christ broke the silence to call out to the men and women of the city, “Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love.” (Micah 6:8, Msg)
I prayed this morning pastors laid their prepared sermons aside to acknowledge the ugly head of hatred and bigotry and called evil by it’s name. If ever a pastor had a reason to bring their congregation into a relevant moment, it was this morning. If ever there was a reminder to follow Christ, it was today. Christ was not passive, but proactive and engaged to love and respect everyone, always. “The story of the church is Christ. It is love, truth, diversity, inclusion, and honoring the dignity of all people.
I am calling the church to stand in the the gap. Are you living the clear message of Christ? Is the door to your heart open? Are the doors of your church wide open? Are you standing on the line and in the threshold, extending an open hand and beckoning all to walk with you and follow Christ? Are you saying to everyone across false boundaries of ethnicity and culture, “Come and be a part of His story!”
Awaken Our Hearts! Lord, Awake Our Hearts!
Rev. Daynette Snead
Photo Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/virginia-gov-mcauliffe-white-nationalists-place-america/story?id=49183979
Daynette Snead, is an Ordained Baptist Minister and Associate Pastor of First Chin Baptist Church, a Burmese refugee congregation in Eastern North Carolina, President of Diaspra (Diversity Inclusion A Support Presentation Association), Licensed Lifeforming Diversity Coach, and Chair of the Racial Reconciliation Ministry Team of the Cooperative Baptist Church Fellowship North Carolina. She coaches congregations and church leadership towards intercultural ministry. Daynette is a Doctor of Ministry cohort at Gardner-Webb University and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org