I believe in partnerships, in hand- holding, of walking and working together. While it is not always easy or pleasant and there are certainly cases for which it might seem impossible, the ministry of reconciliation requires such action and movement, crossing the tracks, the social color lines and the aisle. And it not just coming together. The goal is not mere fellowship, of our being able to behave peaceably toward one another or to hold a meaningful though timed conversation if we had to.
It is not just about recognizing differences or even offenses but discovering who we are more fully through relationship. We cannot see ourselves differently if we do not see others who are different from ourselves. We cannot practice this sacred work by talking to persons of our culture, only working with the people in our communities as we are prone to have the same conversations and draw the same conclusions.
Instead, we must broaden our reach and consequently, our vision, which is why the work of great people like those at Ethics Daily is essential. We cannot do it all alone. Everyone has a part to play and they certainly assist me in doing mine better… because we cannot do it alone.
“EthicsDaily.com is a division of the Baptist Center for Ethics, founded in 1991 with the mission of providing proactive, positive and practical ethics resources to churches. Our initiatives focus on ‘challenging people of faith to advance the common good.'”
“Knowing what’s right does not mean much unless you do what’s right.”
There is so much terrain to cover and so many layers to our continuing conversation on race and its progeny. To be sure, I agree with President Obama as to the nature of our conversations moving forward. He said during Wednesday’s eulogy of the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine murdered by accused killer Dylann Roof, “We talk a lot about race. There’s no short cut. We don’t need more talk.”
He also said, “To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change… That’s how we lose our way again.” He warned others not to “slip back into a comfortable silence.”
While I am a lover of words, they should not replace the work of justice and reconciliation. Several organizations have stepped forward to provide tools and resources. And I too want to offer a space for that list to be extended. I am a Baptist by tradition and so my support will come predominately from that community of faith. But, don’t let that scare you off. In order for our country to be healed of the wounds of race, we will need all hands on deck. So, please add to this list from your tradition and perspective.
The New Baptist Covenant has provided a template for a covenant of action. Mosaix, “a movement toward multi- ethnic churches,” provides a “Multi- Ethnic Roadmap.” The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University has published an entire issue on racism that includes a worship service with hymns, prayers, readings and scripture. They also have articles by Michael Emerson and Mikeal Parsons among others. The good folks at Ethics Daily have a DVD and study guide called “Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism.” Robert Dilday at Baptist News Global captured the sentiment of some who struggled to find the words for the Sunday message after the murders. Pastor Peter Haas’ “Confessions of a White Male Pastor” is powerfully honest. Also, Ministry Matters offers lots of articles that could serve as points for dialogue, reflection and action items to include David Gushee’s “Do we need guns in holy places?”, Mark Lockard’s “Can the church reckon with racism?” and Jonathan Merritt’s “What does it take to forgive someone like Dylann Roof?”
There are also numerous book and movie titles, links to articles and the like on my resource page. But, this work is not just mine or that of a few. You can offer a helping hand by sharing Bible studies ideas, materials for small groups or sermons that might be of help to us after the murders at Emanuel AME Church.
Today is a humbling one for me. I received the email notification that I would be profiled on the Ethics Daily website early this morning. I answered the questions for the interview about a month ago. I knew that it was coming. Still, I am deeply grateful for the acknowledgement.
Some people work for praise and expect it. Others work because they are driven by productivity. I am a member of the latter group. I love work and I love my work.
People ask why I am so passionate about race and saying good riddance to it. The answer is simple. It’s what I was born to do. I was created to do this. I don’t have anything else to say to race.
So, when the praise comes, it is unexpected. I am not writing for an audience so the applause startle me. I must confess that while I share this blog with you, I am writing for me. While I am thankful for the attention, this work is more personal than some may realize. This is why I don’t argue in the comment section; it is because I am not an argument but an agreement.
I am in agreement with the Word of God and it is to God that I give the glory for this profile in goodwill for it is simply an expression of God’s will that must be done on earth: reconciliation.