As we mourn, filter through our emotions and reflect on the recent tragedy in Charleston South Carolina I was challenged with what response I personally should give as a black man and a pastor. Then as a local church. The thought pattern became more intriguing when I thought about what response the unified church should give. The following are a few thoughts about what I believe the church should do in response to the shootings. This list is not exhaustive or a end all, but a start.
- Talk About Race: This is the perfect time and place to talk about race relations in America….AGAIN. If you consider that its the south, a terrorist act against a black church, and 9 black people dead at the hands of a racist white man, you cannot help but draw historical parallels with the 16th Baptist church bombings and the general disregard for black life. Feels like we are back at the beginning. Perhaps the reset should be a restart of a conversation between black Americans and white Americans, and honestly white Americans with other white Americans, that we and they have not fully had.
- The Humility to Repent: Racism is a difficult conversation for everyone, but particularly for white Americans. But there can be no true healing without an acknowledgement of fault from those at fault. A full admission too. It is both courageous and humble to acknowledge historical and ancestoral wrongs to those whom have been violated. There is no true healing when we medicate a symptom. Repentance is the only pathway to true healing. If I had my way, Id like to see prominent white pastors acknowledge the issue, accept a historical responsibility to it and participate in the strategy for healing- then teach about it from their pulpits.
- Humilty to Forgive: Forgiveness is not built on the shoulders of repentance. There is a responsibility to forgive regardless of whether repentance is offered or not. If one would properly understand forgiveness they will see that forgiveness is not for the offender, it is for the offended. Black leaders cannot allow a lack of national forgiveness to excuse our responsibility to do better. Unforgiveness can be a crutch that is counterintuitive to true progress, it weakens the resolve of our fight and distorts the purpose for which we fight.
- Take down the flag: Again, as a historical marker, the confederate flag is a blatant sign of oppression to a significant number of American citizens. It highlights the worst of who we are and keeps a light on the darkest moments of our history. It belongs in a museum, not as the banner of South Carolina. There can be no authentic steps forward with the banner of black oppression waving atop of the meeting room. Not only do I challenge S.C. but also NASCAR, and major corporations who have chosen to lodge their business and brands to such an oppressive symbol and defensive community surrounding its sensitivity. What can the church do? Lead the charge and support efforts to remove such symbolisms on tax funded properties.
- Engage: We have to engage in the battle. Legislatively, educationally, and spiritually, the church has to engage in the conversation and discourse and hold everyone accountable to “right-ness.” Justice and righteousness are the primary ways Gods Kingdom is described. Where we go, His kingdom will have come. Lets take the Kingdom to the people and fight for justice and equality and healing from our racial wounds- church, courthouses, business and commerce, athletics and entertainment, religious institutions- we must engage on all fronts!
Wake Up Ur Dream