In recent months, diverse groups of Christian leaders have spoken up against injustices against people of color and other oppressed people within our society.
Beth Moore shared an open letter about the importance of women leaders and the misogyny and racism within American Evangelicalism. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also joined the great cloud of witnesses by taking a stand against President Donald Trump’s incitement of racism and his unjust, unethical, and immoral practices in his personal, public, and political life. When Beth Moore speaks, her posts go viral. When Russell Moore speaks, he gets featured on CNN. While I deeply appreciate when sisters and brothers like these use their platforms to influence and speak as the Holy Spirit pricks their hearts, I want us to also ask why the voices of the people of color who have been fighting the good fight and speaking against these same injustices for years, some for decades, go unheard?
White allies and sisters and brothers must acknowledge that when things are bad for White women in society and in the church, they are far worse for women of color. Allies, in their confessions and laments, must also use their platforms as an opportunity to elevate, sponsor, and share space with people of color who have been consistent in their witness and faithful in their work and convictions for years. Whenever the words “race” or “reconciliation” are mentioned within the Christian framework, I need the names and contributions of those like the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, professor Drew G.I. Hart, Edward Gilbreath, LaTasha Morrison, and the Rev. Efrem Smith elevated.
At the end of last year, I announced that I would be joining the writing team of Missio Alliance. Missio Alliance is a network of people who are passionate about the Northern American church, evangelicalism, and engaging the cultural challenges of our day. One thing I love about Missio Alliance is their intentionality in building a diverse learning environment and leadership community. Last month, I introduced my friend, Carolyn Custis James, and Dr. MaryKate Morse as leading women voices of Missio Alliance. Today, I have the privilege of introducing leading African American male voices within Missio Alliance.
Meet Efrem Smith. Efrem is the President and CEO of World Impact, a Christian missions organization committed to facilitating urban church planting movements through evangelism, discipleship, and the empowerment of the unreached urban poor. You can read more about his passion for the African American church and multi-ethnic church planting here. He is the author of The Post-Black and Post-White Church and Jump into a Life of Further and Higher. I also recommend reading one of his recent blogs, “#BlackLivesMatter and Evangelicalism.”
Next up is Dr. Dennis R. Edwards. I have not personally had the opportunity to meet Dr. Edwards, but he is the senior pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis and I look forward to hearing and learning from him. You can read about his passion and concerns for the church here. His concerns about power, violence, and lack of interest in biblical engagement are of particular interests to me. His hope is that “Christians will continue to be enthusiastic about engaging Scripture and also to let Scripture inform us regarding issues of power and privilege.” I look forward to listening to some of his sermons and drawing from his as well.
The co-founder of Missio Alliance, JR Rozko, recently posted on his Facebook page, “I’ve learned that one of the most crucial dimensions to evaluating which leaders are worth following is taking a good hard look at the wells they draw from for their own intellectual formation and who they look to as heroes and exemplars.” I could not agree more, so I close with the question: