A few months ago I began planning the book launch for Rediscipling the White Church. With help from some amazing church members, we’d planned on a celebration at a friend’s church here on the South Side. There would be good music, homemade desserts, and some friends would join me for a panel discussion to talk about themes from the book. I especially looked forward to publicly thanking a bunch of local folks whose friendships and direction over the years made the book possible.
Obviously none of that happened. Instead, a few weeks ago, my dear friend and mentor Dr. Brenda Salter-McNeil called me up to suggest an online launch. So that’s what we did this past Wednesday, and it was great.
In addition to Dr. Brenda, my Daniel Hill and José Humphreys joined us for an insightful conversation about discipleship and racial justice. It was deep but also, for me at least, a lot of fun. If you missed it, I hope you’ll watch the replay above.
This week Religion News Service posted an article I wrote about reframing race.
I’ve found that most Christians like the idea of diversity in their churches. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been told something like, “I’d love to be a part of a diverse church, but my town (suburb, neighborhood, etc.) is so white.” These people will also express their interest in racial justice while again lamenting that there’s nowhere to direct this passion in their racially homogenous setting.
These conversations reveal an assumption that, when it comes to racial reconciliation and justice, the real action must be left to churches like mine. White Christians and their majority white churches, the thinking goes, don’t have an important role to play.
The work, according to this perspective, is “over there”: in the city, within the diverse churches, among communities of color. It’s the same assumption that keeps white churches silent when, once again, black women and men are killed, and black communities traumatized.
The problem with this assumption is it incorrectly pushes racial injustice off on people of color, when race was historically constructed by whites in order to benefit whites. Though the social hierarchy of race comes at the expense of women and men of color, the work of deconstructing it must be done by those who constructed it. By assuming that white churches and ministries have nothing significant to contribute to the reconciliation of the church, we misunderstand how race works.
Read the rest here.
I recently finished Eve Ewing’s book about the 2013 public school closures here in Chicago, Ghosts in the Schoolyard. Most of her research was done in the Bronzeville community where our church is located and I was reminded of how close to the surface history is around here. As an example, check out this great article about Lou Della Evans-Reid, a legendary choir director on the South Side.
In Chicago’s gospel scene, she’s a living legend, responsible for inspiring a fleet of musicians, producers, and choir directors across the city, the state, the nation, and even the world. A flock of fans—most of them loyal churchgoers from multigenerational families—often crowds around Evans-Reid after a Sunday service.
In 1950 Evans-Reid was one of five charter members of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, led by her older brother, the Reverend Clay Evans. “The Ship,” as it’s often called, has become a beloved south-side institution and a powerhouse in the world of gospel music, and it’s well remembered for its support of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Evans-Reid served as its music director from 1963 till her retirement in 2000.
Our family spent our day off hiking around the Indiana National Lakeshore earlier this week. The birds and wildflowers abounded! I hope you can get some socially distanced fresh air this weekend.