Vintage Church’s Next Steps Towards Racial Reconciliation
Vintage Church has been on a journey of lament, growth, and action towards racial reconciliation
The Holy Spirit has not been silent and scripture has not been unclear on the issue of racism. The white evangelical church just hasn’t been listening and responding, and for many years has been complicit in our words and deeds. As we follow Jesus, we are led to lament, repent, and love our neighbor. As Jesus clearly defines neighbor in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), it’s not bound to a culture, skin color, or economic status. Each human on God’s earth is made in his image and likeness, and we are to love as Christ loved us.
The past few months have shown us that while good steps have been taken, we have a long way to go as a church body. Therefore, what follows is the plan for next steps. Some are continued actions while others are new. We invite each person who calls Vintage Church home to join the leadership and staff in these actions to build the bridge between Vintage Church and the minority communities within the Triangle.
As we face the injustices and violence done to people of color, and to people who are poor, we must not then turn away. Truly hearing means followers of Christ must feel and sit in the grief with our fellow image-bearers.
The listening and learning have been key for many of us at Vintage Church, and we want this to continue. We have provided a list of books and voices from people of color to learn from and will continue pressing into this commitment.
As we face our sins both personal and corporate, we are committed to asking the Holy Spirit to lead us in conviction, humility, and repentance.
SERMON SERIES SHIFT
In light of the state of our nation and the conviction of Vintage Church leadership, we have decided to change our planned Fall series to address what Scripture teaches about God’s Kingdom of Justice and how we are called to establish that in the here and now.
As CG’s are encouraged to work from the Sunday sermon topics, we are asking all community groups to go through material during the updated Fall series to lament, pray, learn, and act in response.
Pastor Leonce Crump, Jr.’s primary point was that every Vintage member needed to make the topic of racial reconciliation a groundswell issue and take personal ownership. It’s not up to the Vintage Church staff or leaders to solve this issue, but we are committed to prioritizing this as a church with time, money, and prayer. Please do understand that we are also pressing hard, learning, engaging with, and trying to start justice movements on not only race issues but these too: homelessness, education inequalities, sexual abuse, the sex slave industry, slavery, gender issues, city poverty and world poverty, church planting, adoption, and organizations like Compassion International/World Missions.
Still, we are committing to not be the generation looked upon by the next as staying silent and complicit in the area of systemic racism and injustice.
The Holy Spirit is grieved by all racism, especially racism in his church of which most often the white evangelical church has been complicit. As followers of Jesus, we are committed to no longer staying silent or ignorant in racist thoughts, actions, or inaction. To repent means we do not simply say “we’re sorry,” but we turn and walk in the opposite direction towards God.
We gained greatly from the teaching of Pastor Leonce Crump, Jr. over two separate occasions, and his charge to be historians, theologians, and relational has been life-changing for many Vintage folks. Where we have failed is in prioritizing in-depth training for our staff and leaders from organizations that walk with churches in the area of racial reconciliation. We are committed to making this happen in 6-9 months, depending on restrictions related to COVID-19.
Over the past seven years, the staff of Vintage Church has grown in diversity, hiring three African-American pastors. And yet, we are committed to seeing more growth in this area. As the leadership gains new voices, we believe this will help enable the congregation to gain new perspectives.
Pastoral Response in light of the murder of George Floyd and ensuing mass protests.
We know that there are many business owners who are heartbroken and are unsure how they might be able to recover from a scenario like this. Yet if our attention goes just to the riots and to the damage done we miss the spark that ignited such a hot fire and such an important one. Our black brothers and sisters have been treated with injustice and now it’s on us to do something. The Holy Spirit is going to move in the midst of our apathy and use us to bring systematic change. Let’s lament with our brothers and sisters but let us also bring the change that the Holy Spirit desires to bring. Let’s start a robust conversation that turns into significant action. Pray with us.
Our country is in distress due to the violence that African Americans are suffering. Our black brothers and sisters have been crying out for over 400 years. As white Americans we have been tone deaf to it, ignorant to it, or have looked the other way. We have been silent all too long. The Holy Spirit has not been silent, though, on the issue of racism. He speaks very directly to it and teaches us very specifically about it. The white evangelical church has turned a silent ear toward it. If you have been silent towards racism, you are in unrepentant sin and we have to repent and turn back to the goodness of God and pursue the equality of all image-bearers. Every human being bears the image of God himself. He loves us and gave his only son for us and as we watch an entire people group suffer disproportional violence and turn a blind eye, we are grieving the Holy Spirit and we must come to a place where we stand with our brothers and sisters and beg that the Holy Spirit would move in our country and it our lives. It’s on us as white followers of Christ.
Two years ago we brought Pastor Leonce Crump in to help us deal with this issue of racism. He told us that we needed to do three things.
1. We need to become theologians.
2. We need to become historians.
3. We need to be come relational.
Conversation on the Gospel & Race
with Pastor Leonce Crump and others.
Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White: The Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs
by David R. Roediger
A Kids Book About Racism
by Jelani Memory