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Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by SaggyWoman, Feb 14, 2010.
How do you deal with the racial divide at your church?
Now my disclaimer is that I'm white but....
I don't see much of a racial divide at our church.
We have many races at our church and all are welcome. We also have deaf, handicapped, mentally challenged and such at our church who are more than welcomed - they have whole ministries dedicated to them!
Now, like I said, I'm white and maybe I don't see something that's going on but I love all of my brothers and sisters in Christ whether they're black, yellow, white or green. Color doesn't bother me. Oh - and we do have a few mixed race marriages that are non-issues too.
And Annsi, I feel the same way.
What if you were the one with the handicap, the "different" race, the biracial child.... how would you feel at your church?
This morning our pastor was preaching about Jesus' command to the disciples to "launch out into the deep" and spoke at length about how faith involves acknowledging that we cannot and must not always be in control of our lives or of our church. He spoke about several ways in which our church must acknowledge that God is doing some things among us whether we "control" them or not, among which is an increasing racial diversity in the congregation, and that if we will have faith we will see a "great catch of fish".
He gave the invitation and two adult men responded, one white man for rededication (someone who had been on the books for years but distant from the church's life) and an African-American man who made a profession of faith. I thought that this was a wonderful confirmation of our attempt to be fully open to all people.
I think I'd feel pretty comfortable. Everyone is included, no one is made to feel "lesser" that I can see. We make sure that everyone who wants to be involved can to the best of our ability. I've been getting to know the deaf more since I'm learning sign language and right now I'm helping to set up a special program for special needs kids who are from ages 5 to about 16 or so. As far as race, I don't see any issues there. While we don't have any black pastors, a number of our deacons are men. We also have a growing hispanic population.
Now as I said, I could be looking through rose colored glasses but none of my friends who are black or Chinese or hispanic have said anything about being made to feel like a lesser person here.
Can you be a little more specific?
What is happening, in particular? For the record, I am black, my wife is white, and I have pastored two congregations that were multi racial, multi ability level, and in urban areas. On a different note, I would appreciate prayer for my family. I am being considered as the pastor of a historically black congregation in St Louis. There were 100 national applicants, and I have made it to being one of the final two. It is a full time position and has a lot of potential to make a difference for the kingdom, not that any other position that I have served in didn't have the potential. They have never had an interracial couple in leadership, so it's going to be a challenge for them, and my wife, if I am called.
Terrell - I'd be privileged to pray for you.
I have a black pastor friend here in the Salt City that is in a interracial marriage. He told me that it is possible that he has not had a greater because his wife is white in the black neighborhood where his church is located.
I trust that this will not discourage you, but rather you will seek to overcome the barriers.
Only white people where I go...and no one "talks" about it..used to have a hispanic family but they moved on to a hispanic congregation.
I work in a foster care situation where I can have any race of foster kids. The church across the street that they attend is all white except for the children here in foster care and the staff who are not white.
Today I took a resident over there who is new and is having adjustment problems to a predominantly white school and now a predominantly white church when coming from a heavily dominant black/multiracial situation.
I dont' believe the people mean harm, but when we went there today, they greeted me fairly well and seemed to want to greet her initially (who knows why???) and when we went in to sit down, it was difficult to get seats together due to the crowding and being there almost at the start of the service, and it upset her and walked out. She eventually apologized to me.
I realize it was a mix of a lot of things but I ended up being upset the whole service because though I never think this way, a spot of me feels like it was racial (not mean, just an uncomfortableness on the church's part...and the girl's part.)
What to do, what to do....
Saggy, it sounds to me like the girl you brought is the one who felt uncomfortable, not the other people at church. It might be that since the service was about to start, people didn't have time or inclination to talk and the girl automatically judged them as racist. Not sure this is true in your situation, but I've found many minority raced folks to have a big chip on their shoulder against whites, and the most minute little thing will set them--not because someone has done anything to them, but because of their insecurity from the past or even present. That may be what happened here.
There's no racial divide in my church (all white) but a pastor friend of ours who is looking for a church, says they have encountered a LOT of racial prejudice. All the applications he has filled out have asked for a FAMILY picture. They are white with an adopted multi-racial daughter and when they submit family pics, the churches want to know why she's multiracial (adoption or whatever) and what races she represents and if they plan to adopt more minority children! One church even asked them, "If you were pastor of our church and a black man and it's (not his, IT'S) family walked in the door, how would you handle the situation?"
So, from what they have encountered, there must be some prejudice out there in fundamental Baptist churches. I have no idea why.:BangHead:
You are probably right....not completely sure, but probably so.
I am trying to take out of the equation the fact we were running a tad late for my expectations, because I like to go a bit early to get a seat without all that drama going on.
I will say that in another scenario, a peer of mine felt at odds because the church, though "welcoming" seemed to do so out of obligation rather than genuineness. Which, I think a lot of churches do. This is why I find the handshaking time odd because '''''''so what about a handshake. GEt to know me. Talk to me a while before or after church.
Anyway, I am still trying to figure out why I was so flustered about it.
Like most traditional Baptist churches, not very well. Though we wish it where different, there is lots of unlearning that has to happen for the "unity" you speak of to be a reality.
Our church has a few Hispanic families that visit from time to time (mainly because of our association's Hispanic ministries that I am active in... and they feel welcomed at our church)..
But a couple yrs ago, when they started coming a member one Sunday walked into the foyer, saw a couple Hispanics, turned and left... Never has came back.
He was well known for not liking what he called "sand ni@@ers"
Well, my response... "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!"
OUr church don't need racists..