Updated Statement for Racial Reconciliation
September 6, 2020
Every time I write a statement of this nature, I feel woefully inadequate. I am not an expert on racism, nor do I have the time to read the numerous books emerging that are bringing a new depth to a subject white Americans have for too long neglected. I am a Christian on a journey who happens to lead a faith community that is predominately white in a community which has been described as whitetopia. If you will listen, let me share where my heart is at this point in time. Please be gracious as I attempt to navigate where I sense the Holy Spirit leading me as I lead this congregation.
I wish to celebrate the heart for racial reconciliation I’ve sensed and have now seen demonstrated as we held a combined service with the Noblesville Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. We had 250 (200 of which were Noblesville First) people turn out for a service that has been running 80-100 in attendance this summer. Many made an extra effort to be present to declare their love for our African American brothers and sisters. You might call it their version of peaceful protest. If you could not be present and wish to hear the messages shared by Pastor Mindy Mayes and myself, please go to ... https://youtu.be/oo8ryNqYcI0.
I’ve also been encouraged by the desire to learn more about what racial reconciliation means. In response to a request to provide opportunities to discuss the Latasha Morrison book, Be the Bridge, Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation, we have set up four discussion times for this worship/study series based on the book. Three of the four are virtual conversations using the Zoom format and one is in-person. Click here to find out how to participate in one of these groups. The first step to racial reconciliation is to understand how systemic racism is so deeply integrated into our culture. Many of us with good hearts and wish to love all people regardless of the color of their skin are just not aware of how much racism has infiltrated our way of life.
Our Be the Bridge worship series and a developing relationship with the Bethel AME faith community are natural next steps in a conversation which needs to continue. My hope is this conversation continues until we have 1) established a culture where diversity is valued in Noblesville and 2) determined what our contribution as a congregation will be to God’s call for racial justice in the larger community. I am heartened by the conversations that have begun but we should not be satisfied until definitive concrete action is accomplished. While I believe many Christians desire racial reconciliation (we all want to get along), racial justice is much harder. Racial justice requires creative and innovative solutions to inequities reinforced over several generations.
If you have any questions about how to become involved in this ongoing conversation, please reach out to myself, Pastor Jill Moffett or Pastor Matt Hantelman. We would love to add your voice to a movement we believe is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Jerry Rairdon