Racism, Prejudice Not Part of God’s Kingdom Design

Post a Comment » Written on March 16th, 2009     
Filed under: News
By Don Meyer

CHICAGO, IL (March 16, 2009) – How do you define racism? Prejudice? When was the first time in your life you realized race mattered? Do you think racism is more common or uncommon in your church? Your community? Your country?

Those are just a handful of the probing questions that members of the Executive Board of the Evangelical Covenant Church wrestled with Thursday and Friday as they participated in an Invitation to Racial Righteousness administered by the Department of Compassion, Mercy and Justice (CMJ). They were joined by members of the Council of Administrators and a number of other invited guests.

The event was facilitated by Debbie Blue, executive minister of the CMJ department, and Richard Lucco, superintendent of the Great Lakes Conference. It began with dinner, orientation and discussion on Thursday evening and continued all day Friday. Listen to the videos for a better understanding of the importance of the event and how it is hoped it will make a difference.

The invitation is designed to challenge participants to move beyond language and knowledge of racial righteousness to a deeper place of personal awareness, responsibility, healing and action. The content reflects the theme of Revelations 7:9 – “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

The process seeks to encourage participants to engage in relationship and community building activities to move toward true community across ethnic and racial lines, Blue says. It also encourages exploration of racial and ethnic injustices that exist in society as well as identifying action steps for change, both personally and as a community, she adds.

“The mission of the Evangelical Covenant Church is to extend the kingdom of God to every person and into every part of the world – that means the mission of the church is about personal salvation,” reads the introduction to a document outlining the theological foundation for the program. “You can’t have the rule of the kingdom through a life unless you have the presence and the power of the kingdom in a life . . . that comes through living faith in Jesus Christ.”

Bringing that ethic of the kingdom into the world requires an understanding of the ethic of the cross itself – an “ethic of righteousness,” Blue notes, as reflected in Amos 5:2 – “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

“This righteousness is primarily found in how we treat people,” the theology statement declares. “In the New Testament, Jesus defines our faithfulness to the ethic of the cross by the way we respond to the least, the last and the lost. We are called to righteousness. But it is not just an invitation to righteousness – it is an invitation to racial righteousness. “We have a biblical image of what God’s kingdom is supposed to look like in reference to race (Rev. 7:9). Our task is to bring about a living image of God’s kingdom in heaven here on earth. The church is to be an image to the world of the new community of reconciliation, righteousness, and unity that is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Participants in the Invitation to Racial Righteousness are given opportunities for personal reflection, group discussion and other interactive exercises designed to heighten sensitivity to the issues, deepen mutual understanding of differing perspectives, and explore the instruction found in God’s word.

This event is one of three key initiatives offered by CMJ – the others include Sankofa, where participants visit numerous sites in the south associated with the Civil Rights movement, and Journey to Mosaic offered in the North Pacific and the Pacific Southwest conferences.

The next Sankofa is open to anyone and is scheduled August 6-9. Click here for more information or email Chrissy Palmerlee.

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