Encouraging, Challenging and Equipping Congregations to Thrive Spiritually and Be Apostles for Reconciliation

Encouraging, Challenging and Equipping Congregations to Thrive Spiritually and Be Apostles for Reconciliation

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Black and Presbyterian

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lack and Presbyterian . . .
 
When the book of the same title was first published in 1983, written by Dr. Gayraud S. Wilmore, it asserted without apology that there indeed was such a thing as African American Christianity. By virtue of the fact that many African Americans came to Presbyterianism through colonization, it would stand to reason that those Africans in the diaspora, imported via slave ships, brought with them a religion not based in Judaism. That was not acceptable to some. Somewhere in the slave’s orientation to Christianity, there was an assumption if not an assertion that the African traditional religions were somehow substandard if not all together wrong; meaning the white folks’ religion was the “right one”.
 
Fast forward to today. We are living in a time when racism is cresting with a vengeance. The wrongness of brown people, both in person and in practice is once again being promoted, like immigrants coming from “{blank} hole” countries, says Trump or brown people from Central America identified as “invaders”. Needless to say, some of these folks bring rich cultures and religions that have roots farther back than Christianity.
 
At the intersection lies the question: how does the Church of today speak to those who have been told that their color, way of life or religious traditions are wrong? We ask people to adopt our faith – in favor of what? An institution that in some ways is in danger of collapsing upon itself because of our dogma, fear and refusal to adapt? A place that is resisting stepping out of the doors to see who lives in the community? And what is our deepest hope? Are we wanting to make disciples or Presbyterians? And disciples of what or whom; Jesus or merely the institution, the same one that is struggling with its own racism and phobias?
 
I am Black and I am Presbyterian and I am asking myself these same questions. I love our Church and I want to be part of its reformation…you know, Church reformed…always reforming….
 
Happy Black History Month
Posted by Robert Smith

The Best Laid Plans

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This weekend I was watching a news program on Brexit – the United Kingdom’s plan to leave the European Union. When the vote was first taken there was much rancor, protesting, speeches, passion and politicking. Now almost two years later, it seems the UK has not figured out how to pull this off!
 
I’m not judging, this is a common problem, especially in the church. We have great plans, visions, and dreams. We go to meetings, conferences, convocations, trainings and produce lots of Session and Cabinet minutes and then…well it doesn’t happen exactly as planned.
 
We can’t give up. I believe our hearts and minds are in the right place but we often underestimate how much time it may take to get folks on board, raise money, set policy, develop procedures or simply map it out, whatever “it” is. I know, we are working on several exciting initiatives in the Presbytery that are taking some time to get going. Yet I see an opportunity!
 
This new year, take some extra time to plan out what you’d like to see happen in your congregation, ministries and maybe in your own life. Then begin the process of…well…following the process. With each big step, evaluate, then move forward again. Keep the goal in mind, but understand that there are twists and turns; new information may emerge and road blocks may appear. But you and I and we will get there! In fact success is in the journey, the discovery, the path. And don’t forget to pray. God will walk with us as we seek God’s will in all we do!
 
Happy New Year!
Posted by Robert Smith