In light of last week’s events, many are asking the questions, “What can I do now? Where must we go from here? What can my church and community do to move the conversation forward?”
I have been mostly silent online because my emotions were running high, and in the public arena I feel a responsibility to speak what is true and only what is helpful. I’m still not ready to write or dialog publicly about the events regarding the killing of African American males, #AltonSterling (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) and #PhilandoCastile (Minnesota), by police. Both of these events preceded and seemingly motivated the #DallasPoliceShooting. Additionally, there was a black man, 22 year old Michael George Smith Jr. of New Jersey, who was found hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Georgia around this same time. The medical examiner has called this death a suicide, though social media reported through the hashtag #PiedmontParkHanging that the KKK was rallying or handing out marketing materials just 30 minutes prior to this death. So I have questions.
If folks really want to be a part of the solution, then we all have to do the hard work. That work includes education, listening, and learning from others who are different from us. In includes expanding our relational networks, and it includes tearing down unjust systems and structures.
A few years also, I completed a racial reconciliation blog series. It includes many resources and interviews from neglected voices in the church. I hope to consolidate this material and have it available as a downloadable .pdf soon. In the meantime, you can begin reading here.
The Missio Alliance has consolidated a list of 38 resources to help your church start discussing race today. Several of my pieces and resources from those I have studied and respect are included here.
Finally, getting practical includes prayerful consideration, conversation, and action steps with those who are farther along the road to racial reconciliation and racial justice than we are. This is why I am looking forward to teaching and learning that the upcoming:
Grace and Justice: Making Disciples in the City
Creating Options Together Conference 2016
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Dates: August 2-5, 2016
Attending this conference will give you and those in your community and church the opportunity to hear from and intimately connect with pastors, thought leaders, theologians, practitioners, and community mobilizers about how Christ and the gospel can be brought to bear regarding discipleship, poverty, and the issues we are facing today.
In addition to myself, speakers include Soong-Chan Rah, Trillia Newbell, Thabiti Anyabwile, Mark Charles, and Judy Wu Dominick just to name a few.
Want to become part of the solution? Come on out and join us.
Registration has been extended through Friday night, July 15. As of this morning, there were still 275 scholarships available for pastors and leaders who minister in an urban community!