Why Talking About Race Can Bring Healing to the Church

Imagine Fellowship Wayne and Ruth Coleman Holland, Michigan
Imagine Fellowship
Wayne and Ruth Coleman
Holland, Michigan

Tuesday’s town hall on race and justice at Imagine Fellowship Church opened with a joyful song of praise.

Rev. Wayne Coleman followed with a low-key presentation on a most delicate subject: racism in the church. He drew from a Lutheran study on race and religion, on a University of Michigan study and on his own experience as a black minister.

Racism, he said, assigns superior and inferior qualities to people based on skin color or country of origin. It won’t end until people have open, if difficult, conversations about what that means, he said.

“Racism is a sin that needs confession to get to redemption,” he said.

Racism’s deep roots, he said, include Christians who happily went to lynchings and those who used the Bible to enforce slavery. While churches are making efforts to address the schisms now, racial unity faces three obstacles: fear of change, paternalism and denial.

He shared statements from some white people in Holland to make his point. One man left Imagine’s congregation, saying he was too uncomfortable with the musical style and the “culture of worship” which he and his family found “hard to relate” to. Another cited “too many” black congregation members. A third fretted about being unable to find a black minister to join another church’s white and Latino pastoral staff. He told Coleman, who is black, it’s hard to find “intelligent black ministers.”

Coleman asked his audience for their thoughts.

Bill Parr, who is white, said he grew up in the south, seeing the long-range effects of slavery still present today, both in the economics and culture. He called it “an outrage,” considering how slavery fueled economic growth.

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Source: Holland Sentinel | Peg.McNichol
(616) 546-4269

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