I grew up in the black church. I didn’t know anything else. Growing up I didn’t think there were people of different races worshipping in separate locations on any given weekend. All I knew is that my parents chose the church we attended and we went. I had great friends and memories growing up and connecting with people in church, but what I didn’t have was connecting with people from other races.
This continued through high school when I attended an all black boarding academy Pine Forge Academy and then attended a historically black university, called Oakwood College (now University). I really never had to deal with race in my life. I had a few friends of other races growing up but most of my close friends were like me, black.
My Dad was a proud black man who taught African-American history, and we even celebrated Kwanzaa most years. I had my first real encounter with people from other races once I started working. Many of us have that same experience. We were told by some “not to trust the white man” or that “they are not looking out for you” or many other things. I’m sure whites were told similar things about blacks too.
Then in 2010 my wife and I made a decision to transfer to a “white” church. I say that because we both had been in black churches all of our lives where we enjoyed the praise and worship and the fellowship, but we both wanted something different for our children. We wanted them to experience something that we didn’t have—relationships with other races at an early age in church.
I remember talking to some black pastor friends and being ashamed to tell them that I attend a “white” church, while I was scolded by others who said, “Why are your worshipping with them?”
The Travyvon Martin case and subsequent verdict has brought race and culture back to America’s forefront. My questions is this. If we can’t get the racial divide in the church right how do we expect anyone outside to get it right?
In 2012 my church did a 4-part series entitled: I am: A Biblical Look at Race and Equality
In the first sermon Pastor Ann Roda said:
“A dialogue about race can be very messy and it requires us to listen without judgement and understand without prejudice.”
What are your thoughts about race and the church? How did you view race growing up in the church (any church)? Can this dialogue happen without getting messy? Can we share and listen without judgment and understand without prejudice? Please weigh in, your thoughts are valued, no matter where you stand.