#RacialRec: A “Do the Right Thing Leader” Hispana

I am pleased to introduce Pastor Daniel Gomez, Pastor de CBC Hispana of Community Bible Church in High Point, NC. Pastor Daniel and the leaders of CBC who serve along side him are “Do the Right Thing Leaders.” CBC is a Bible believing, teaching, and thriving church that consistently shares the love of Christ in our community by meeting practical needs; offering free counseling services which strengthen individuals, families, and the community; while intentionally living as reconciled people who are united in Christ. This was Jesus prayer to his Father in John 17:20-23:

My prayer is not for them alone [his disciples]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

During the interview, Pastor Daniel shared his heart concerning racial reconciliation and the church. (Please note: I am paraphrasing Pastor Daniel’s statements from my notes, and unless otherwise indicated, these are not direct quotes from him.)

What does racial reconciliation mean to you? Why it is important for the American church? How can we, as church leaders, be more intentional about living as reconciled people?

“That’s a hard one.” Pastor Daniel is from Argentina where they do not have racial problems. “In Argentina, people do not learn how to become racist.” Having served as a leader in the American Christian church, however, he understands there are tensions between the Anglos (whites) and Hispanics within the church. Most of tension is simply a result of cultural differences and not racism.

Pastor Daniel was gracious enough to share a little history between Anglo and Hispanic churches in America. In too many cases, a well meaning Anglo church would offer assistance (financial or otherwise) to plant a Hispanic church or help get a Hispanic church off the ground. On the other hand, the Hispanic church may enter the transaction for benefits and eventually abandon the Anglo church. In these and similar cases, there is no real unity between the people or the churches. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil writes about similar scenarios when discussing power as it relates to racial reconciliation. In A Credible Witness she writes, “whenever we identify ourselves as the “helper,” we have just taken the place of power in the relationship (66-67)…in order to acknowledge our real need for other people and to receive their unique perspectives and expertise, we will need to relinquish the power and control that keep us from being changed or influenced by them (64).” So the relationship of an Anglo church assuming the position of power to the “needy” Hispanic church is not an intimate relationship that is built on trust. Pastor Daniel was conscious of this history when he started ministry at CBC.

What’s the back story?

Pastor Daniel and his wife (They have an interracial marriage with two beautiful children) came to CBC three years ago on behalf of their denomination with the intent of helping CBC reach the Hispanic community. The plan was for Hispanics to start meeting in the CBC building and then develop a separate church. This was Pastor Daniel’s desire, until the Senior Pastor of CBC made it known that he would love to have a Hispanic ministry at CBC. It was challenging, but once God revealed His purpose, Pastor Daniel accepted it.

For cultural purposes, Anglos and Hispanic adults have separate worship services at CBC, but all the children at CBC worship together. What lead to the decision of having the children worship together? Do you foresee a day when the next generation (those children who are currently worshipping together) will grow an adult corporate multicultural Sunday morning worship?

“From my American observation, I don’t know if there will ever have a complete integration of adult worship. Again the challenge is not so much racial, as it is cultural. I do see this possibility at CBC because of the leadership, vision, and passion for cultural diversity. Our leaders work constantly towards this vision.” By in large, Hispanics like to worship God in their native language. (CBC Hispana are Spanish speaking worship services, with an English translation.) The reason for integrating the kids is, “CBC has an amazing kids program and all of the Hispanic kids are fluent in both, English and Spanish.” They saw no reason to duplicate efforts. The church leadership had a desire to integrate the kids without assimilating the Hispanic kids (or forcing them to adapt to the American way of doing church).

What makes all of this work? 

On several occasions, Pastor Daniel stated the importance of church leadership being committed and in agreement concerning diversity in the church. Loving, leading, and serving all people is a value of CBC. As stated on their official website, they value Global and Local outreach:

Jesus commissioned His church to make for Himself followers in all nations. Therefore, we believe CBC is to minister both in our local community and in foreign countries. We are to be a sending church; sending from our congregation people, prayers, finances and encouragement for the expansion of God’s kingdom throughout the world. 20% of our giving goes to foreign missions and a lesser sum to local ministries. The aim of CBC is to stress training and outreach with sharing the gospel as a goal and practice in each mission or missional work. Our primary work is Friendship Outreach to the Old Winston neighborhood. Acts 1:6-8, Acts 13:1-3

This is not a value they simply write on a wall or document, it is one they faithfully practice because reconciling people to each other is directly connected to evangelism and reconciling people to God. The leaders of CBC agree to promote harmony, are commitment to each other, and humbly compromise. Among them, there is a true love, passion, and vision for diversity. “As a leadership team, we are in agreement and committed. In addition to what happens at the leadership table, the Anglo pastor and the Hispanic pastor must both lead their individual tribes (culture, people, sheep) as well.

I have been encouraged by my talk with Pastor Daniel. I will feature the second half of our interview during the “Neglected Voices of the Church” segment of this series.

Has this dialog been beneficial? What have you learned? What more would you like to know? As a “Do the Right Thing Leader,” what actions will you take as a result?

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012

 

 

 

 

 

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