by Jim Killam | 3-minute read
A full year before the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, national and district leaders of the Evangelical Free Church of America spent three days together in Montgomery, Alabama. Their central destinations were The Legacy Museum (sometimes called the Lynching Museum) and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
The leaders’ purpose: To confront racial terror, injustice, oppression and marginalization. Not just in our nation’s history, but in our present. In our churches.
A three-part series about the trip speaks to the urgency of this issue for our denomination:
Part 1: Two Days in Montgomery by Kevin Kompelien
Part 2: Surprise, Astonishment and Pain by Neal Brower, Mark DeMire, Brian Farone and Noah Palmer
Part 3: Are We Comfortable Being Uncomfortable? by Alejandro Mandes.
Dr. Mandes, from San Antonio, Texas, is executive director of the EFCA All People Ministry.
“I believe the experience of these leadership groups at the museum and memorial were providential,” Mandes wrote. “We did not know what would happen in the following months as matters of injustice and race rose to the forefront of conversations in our nation, but God did. Our shared knowledge of the pain and injustice felt by African Americans helps me believe that recent events have landed on fertile hearts.”
Pastor Mark DeMire from Memphis, Tenn., added:
“If the church, who has the Spirit of God and the Word of God, cannot rightly model justice and race relations in the church, what do we have to offer those who are watching us from outside the church? Absolutely nothing! We will nullify our verbal testimony with our lack of good deeds in this area. Our Lord Jesus said himself in John 17:21, “[I pray] that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (emphasis mine). How the EFCA handles justice and race relations within the church will either validate our witness to the outside world or void it and render our testimony ineffective.”
Other helpful EFCA resources about race and justice
The Unmuted Gospel by Cedrick Brown
A minority pastor’s message to the majority church
A Time for Lament by Kevin Kompelien
Responding to the injustice and pain in the Twin Cities
The Christian’s Call to Lament by Greg Strand
Learning to sit on the ash heap and cry
Are You Avoiding Conversations About Race and Privilege? by Joshua Smith
Don’t avoid. Jump in. We need each other.
Evangelical History in Black and White by Douglas A. Sweeney
A series on evangelicals and racial and ethnic sin.
Many more resources are available at the Reaching All People section on the EFCA website.
First Free Rockford is part of the EFCA’s Great Lakes District.