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Nurturing Relational Connections Across Boston's Christian Community
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This week, UniteBoston features Terrance Moore, who was a 2015 graduate of the Boston Fellows program . Terrance hosted a conversation at a local church on race – He suggests that each of us, regardless of ethnicity or culture, should:
1. Be prayerful in processing and acting. We are often too quick to act on serious issues without personal brokenness. To understand the hurt, ask the Lord to take you to the place of your own pain and brokenness when he saved you. Pray for: revelation, healing, growth, reconciliation, restoration, overcoming, humility, compassion, work, burden and conviction. Pray against: insensitivity, inconvenience/sleepiness, pride, self-righteousness. (Joel 2:13; Ps. 34:17-19)
2. Make the pain the priority; don’t ignore or minimize it. Whatever the details of any one case, America’s story includes 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of separate-but-equal, 35 years of racist housing policy, and the current state of mass incarceration, police brutality and discrimination, and militarization of inner-city neighborhoods. #BlackLivesMatter is a response to the message that they don’t. Do not discount the pain. Hurt with your brothers and sisters. Approach the Father with it, with them.
3. Educate yourself to the nuance, depth, and perspectives outside of your own experiences on the issue. Ask black friends about their experiences, and listen with an open heart.
4. Embrace the inconvenience and discomfort of the matter; don’t opt out. This is hard work. We don’t feel qualified. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient, scary, susceptible to conflict. The church must act in practical ways to restore justice. Sometimes this will mean engaging those who hold harmful and ignorant views on the issues, even close friends or relatives.
5. Don’t forsake the opportunity to minister through bearing burdens for the opportunity “to be right” in your opinion. Don’t try to prove that you “get it.” You can’t, not fully. And that’s the point, in part.
6. Actively participate, but be a guest by not taking the attention off the issue or the amplification of black voices. Ask. Listen. Give voice to people silenced and ignored.
“Overall, the state of racial relations in America is a very dismal one. Luckily, the Church must remember, God is in the business of resurrecting what seems dead. The process of reconciliation begins at the source of God’s salvation for us: compassion. If the Church can undertake America’s racial issues at a heart level where we compassionately seek to hurt, listen, walk, and work with its brothers and sisters of the black community under the healing lordship of our Father, we will be the restorers of justice God has called us to be. To do that, we have to move past intentions and obstacles and embrace the dirty and difficult work of reconciliation; just as Jesus did for us.”
*Note: Originally published in a Boston Fellows email; reprinted with permission
Jeff Bass, Executive Director for the Emmanuel Gospel Center, was stirred by the recent events in Charleston and listened in on a national call of Christian leaders considering how the church can and should respond to the recent shootings. He writes for the UniteBoston Blog this week:
On May 18, 1992, at Morningstar Baptist Church in Boston, gang violence disrupted a funeral service for a young man who had been gunned down by a drive-by shooting. The stabbing and shooting in the church was a clear wake-up call. “Everyone recognized a line had been crossed. You couldn’t sit idly by anymore.” (Rev. Jeffrey Brown, quoted in the Boston Globe). The Morningstar incident was a turning point in Boston’s history.
“It catalyzed a clergy that by its own admission had failed to grasp the dimensions of youth violence. The Boston TenPoint Coalition, an alliance of ministers and lay leaders, was born. Preachers went into the neighborhood to minister to troubled adolescents. It gave youth workers and community activists renewed urgency in their fight to keep teenagers away from drugs and violence. And it built common cause between ministers and the police after years of mutual distrust, giving rise to the acclaimed community policing strategy that led to a dramatic, unforeseen decline in violence known as the Boston Miracle.” -As reported by the Boston Globe (May 18, 2012)
On June 17, 2015, violence disrupted a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, where nine people, including the senior pastor, were shot and killed by a white man with ties to white supremacist groups. In the last week, while the church and the nation grapple with how to respond, at least three predominately black churches in the South have been destroyed by arson. As we mourn with our brothers and sisters in Charleston, please pray that the shooting at Emanuel AME and related events will stir and motivate the nation as the violence at Morningstar Baptist stirred and motivated Boston in the early 90s.
The status quo is not acceptable. Our nation has deep, systemic issues that require sincere repentance, real change, and gracious healing. Like Boston in the 90s, we need renewed urgency, a greater sense of common cause, and new strategies. Like Boston, the church can and should play a key role. Pray that we will rise up for such a time as this.
We do not choose our moments. Moments choose us. They place before us the question of whether or not we will rise to their occasion. The tragic killings of the Charleston 9 presents yet another moment in the history of our nation where we’ve been chosen. The question is whether or not we will rise to it. -Bishop Claude Alexander, The Park Church, Charlotte
*Note: Originally published here; reprinted with permission
Churches are joining together in united prayer in response to the tragedy in Charleston.
As UniteBoston, we too stand alongside the African American community mourning the loss of our nine brothers and sisters. We grieve for the families who have experienced loss through the shootings in Charleston, and we also grieve for the prevalence of hatred, violence, and racism in our nation. Lord, have mercy.
This Sunday, June 21st, the Imago Dei Community is inviting the Christian community to participate in the One Church Liturgy. They write: “This liturgy is a site dedicated to assist the church to stand together in unity using a common liturgy as we raise our voices as one in times of lament, grief, tragedy and celebration. It is a resource for churches to mobilize in our common faith in Jesus.”
If you will join in this prayer gathering this Sunday, please post a statement on the Facebook event page that they have set up.
As UniteBoston, we affirm the promise of hope in the midst of trials and suffering. Noel Castellanos from the Christian Community Development Association writes, “At this time of lament, we grieve, embracing the promise of Jesus, ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.’ We are not paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence, but we rise with courage and determination to take action: we pray; we mourn; we organize; we advocate; we restore; we enter into the pain of those who suffer for the sake of His glory.”
Did you know that Boston was founded to be a city on a hill and a model for Christian charity? These were the founding principles of our city, spoken by John Winthrop, as he and his fellow companions sailed to begin their civilization in America.
In a Church History course at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Amy Seifert and Kelly Steinhaus researched the history behind the Founder’s Memorial in Boston Common. They wanted to share our findings with the Christian community in Greater Boston by producing a video.
Click on the video link below to watch the video and learn more about Boston’s history! Also, we acknowledge that this is only one perspective of the founding of Boston, and we welcome your ideas and input by commenting via Youtube.