Multiethnic Ministry Leader Santes Beatty Says More White People Should Join Majority Black Churches to Aid Racial Reconciliation in U.S. Churches

Santes Beatty (2nd from right) speaks at Alfred Street Baptist Church on the future of the multiethnic church as part of the Missio Alliance Awakenings conference on March 29, 2019. | Photo: Justin Heap

If racial reconciliation is to ever occur within the American church, more white people need to make the “leap” to join majority black churches, speakers at Misso Alliance’s Awakening Conference advised. 

There also must be a greater understanding of both the black and white church and a re-examination of the dynamics that make multiethnic churches successful, said pastors and theologians during a Friday panel discussion at Alfred Street Baptist Church. Multiethnic congregations are not a boutique enterprise, they stressed, but something vital to the witness and mission of the church of Jesus Christ.

Santes Beatty, director of multiethnic ministries at the Wesleyan Church World Headquarters, noted that the effort to make the church more multiethnic has noble goals and its churches have benefited from the lifeblood of the black church — the minds, the culture, and the experiences of the people it envelops. But the black church hasn’t always benefited.

Explaining the history of how the African Methodist-Episcopal Church began, Beatty noted that “the black church was a critique of the white church, and an affirmation of the intrinsic value of [their] black leaders.”

All of the historically black denominations like the Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship and the AME Church have, over the years, demonstrated three things, he said: “faithfulness to the Gospel in the midst of suffering, inclusiveness or openness to the other in the midst of oppression, and the capacity to speak with power from the margin.”

“It was one of the few places [in society] where black people were in the majority by choice,” Beatty said, noting that its greatest strength could also be its greatest threat and it risks becoming an idol.

Yet, among black Christians, skepticism about the multiethnic movement remains, he continued, given the lack of blacks leading multiethnic congregations. The default seems to be blacks leaving their churches to join mostly white churches to help them transition to multiethnic and not the other way around.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter