I am so grateful for Pastor Kevin being willing to do this interview series with me. In a way I feel I am getting to know him through this series. We lived in the same city before he moved, but due to my ministry being intensively focused on refugees and immigrants I do not have much time to interact with other Americans from churches.
As we were chatting yesterday, I found out we have the same blood type. We could literally save each other’s lives with transfusions. We also both share the same Lord, Holy Spirit and Heavenly Father. Yet sadly if we were in a coffee shop others might only notice we have different skin colors. Kevin is available to speak in churches. If interested, leave a comment.
If you missed Part 1, I suggest reading it first and then come back to Part 2. Kevin is choosing the order of the questions he answers. I am sharing them unedited so you can hear his voice. Part 1 link- Let Their Voices Be Heard Part 1.
What are some examples of encountering racism in the church that you have experienced?
Unfortunately, this is one of the most sensitive realities I deal with. Primarily, because this has been my profession for about 25 years and the arena I have moved in most of my life.
Going to church as a child I was keenly aware that I belonged to a “Black” church. Of course I thought nothing of it as a kid and I even considered it somewhat celebratory. There was a sense of freedom to worship without inhibition. There existed a sentiment that one time a week for at least an hour black folks could spiritually express ourselves without the fear of being judged or scrutinized by white people.
However, what I didn’t realize was that houses of worship across our country were only perpetuating the evil of racism through segregated experiences. It is often quoted that 11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week in America.
For quite some time American Christians have been okay and even supported the deception of establishing churches as “white”, “black”, “latino”, “asian” or any other ethnicity for the sake of style or preference. We will not experience a segregated Heaven!
Oftentimes, as a Black pastor, some of my white colleagues assumed I led a black congregation. Certainly, there were those that were black that attended but nothing could have been further from the truth. Along those lines, I was onced asked by a white pastor to preach at his church. His congregation was predominantly white. He also asked if I could bring my choir, assuming they were all black, he asked if we could sing Old Negro Spirituals. Needless to say I found this offensive.
Probably the most hurtful experience of racism I’ve experienced happened in a forum where black and white pastors gathered to talk about racism and racial reconciliation. As black we were asked to share our stories and experiences of racist encounters. This was enlightening and profound. As the dialogue continued one of our white brothers asked what could the churches do to help break the racial divide. As others offered suggestions I sat quietly and pondered my response.
Finally, I offered, “Stop holding your pulpits hostage!” I continued, “If you’re sincere then hire black pastors to be a part of your leadership and allow opportunity for their faces to be seen and voices to be heard in your pulpit.” “At the very least have one of us fill your pulpit.”
As the room grew silent one pastor retorted, “My people aren’t ready for that!” I was stunned and appalled! The only remedy for the people of God to be readied is for the leader to prepare them. We as the Body of Christ must move to the front of the issue regarding race.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.