Call and Response: Race, Multi-ethnicity, and the Church
This past week Karen Walker, a member of COTC’s Parish Council, and Krista Vossler, a central member of our community, attended “Call and Response: The Past, Present, and Future of Black Christians in America,” a conference sponsored by the Anglican Mutli-Ethnic Network focused on the experience of black Christians in the body of Christ in the United States. I invited Krista and Karen to attend this conference as representatives of our community and as a means of furthering the conversation and God’s work around our calling to be a church that represents God’s multi-ethnic community and that is an agent and instrument of reconciliation. I’m grateful for their willingness to go, and as you’ll see below, to thoughtfully pay attention to and reflect upon the Spirit’s working. I’d invite you to ask them further about their experience in the weeks to come and we are planning to have a time to continue to engage around what Krista and Karen learned at this conference.
We had an amazing experience last weekend at the conference! God impressed it upon our hearts again that He is calling His Church to be one people in Christ, just as Jesus prayed in John 17:11. We learned that to further this in our time will include talking about race.
Last Thursday night, we hosted a brave, 20 year-old college student named Sarah* so she could assist one of the presenters at the conference. Over cups of tea, Sarah shared, “I don’t think anyone ever told me, but somehow I just knew: I was second best; I was less than, because of my skin.” Racism does not have to be taught directly. It saturates our history and permeates our current culture. No one of any color is left unscathed by it. Like any sin, it thrives when we’re not looking directly, honestly, and humbly at it.
We acknowledge it feels uncomfortable. This subject affects our bodies and emotions, often strongly. We don’t know what to do or say. Yet God gives us a picture of His Church, “made up of persons from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Rev 7:9). He made one people out of Jew and Gentile. He reached down and reconciled us to himself through the cross. He knows suffering is part of the process of reconciliation. We can trust him to take us through this as we partner with him. It’s nothing he hasn’t done before and he’s already told us the end of the story.
One opportunity we have to respond to God’s invitation around this is through AMEN, the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network. They’ve started a blog called The Coalition (https://anglicanmultiethnic.org/blog/) to help us grow in unity and godliness while exploring what it means to embody the multi-ethnic kingdom of God.
Thank you for the opportunity to attend this conference. There is so much we have still to learn. If you would like to hear more about our experiences or share your experiences with us, we'd love to have a conversation.
Krista and Karen
*Sarah’s story used with permission