Race…in the World and in the Church

So, it sounds like staff persons for the Clinton and Obama campaigns have met together and decided to go carefully with this racial business. All of it started when Senator Clinton said something about MLK’s vision requiring an actual sitting President (LBJ) to get the laws passed. Her point was, I assume, vision is not enough…practical, political steps requiring experience must be taken and accomplished.
Senator Obama took some offense at that, apparently feeling that it belittle King’s enormous contribution to racial equality in this country. Now, it seems that both candidates recognize how sensitive this stuff still remains and how race is just below the surface in this country even today. So, they’re backing off a bit afraid of sparking racial tension…and driving Africa American voters from the Democratic Party!
At our recent meeting of Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC) we too experienced the sensitivity and volatility of race in our own fellowship. Two of our communions — the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church — have suspended membership in CUIC. The reasons include frustration at the lack of progress we have made together in working toward racial justice in this country together through the instrumentality of CUIC. And, perceived and real instances of “disrespect” shown within our own fellowship. Very painful.
However, the remaining eight communions have committed to a reconciliation process with these great historically Black churches. We have basically suspended operations until the Heads of our Communions send a letter, make personal contact, and participate in a delegation (if invited) to the AME and AMEZ leadership to see if reconciliation is indeed possible.
If it is, we’ll plan next steps together. If it is not, the future of this particular ecumenical configuration is in real jeopardy. Join me in prayers that in this — as in all things — “We All May Be One.”

2 Responses to “Race…in the World and in the Church”

  1. rwk Says:

    One of my favorite times of the week at my office is our weekly Bible study at lunch time on Wednesday. There are usually about a dozen of us on any given day, from brand new employees, service workers, to senior managers. We come from various traditions. We are a racially very diverse group as well. Typically at least half the group are women and racial “minorities” — although we just look upon each other as brothers and sisters. (As an aside, I even hesitate making a comment on our economic, racial and religious make up because it is unimportant to us but seems to be very important to the world.) There is a strong sense of unity even though none of us attend the same actual church and I think very few of us are even in the same denomination. We are united by our love of Christ, our willingness to pray for one another (we have an e-mail prayer request chain), and our coming together to study the Word. We have theological differences, which we respect, but are not divisive because we agree on essentials. The temporal “coming together” of our institutions is never even a point of discussion — because we know the real unity is already exists. My point? Start at the bottom and work your way up…the conferences are nice. Finely worded “announcements” have a certain utility, but they are not unity in the truest sense.

  2. ecubishop Says:

    I could not agree more. One of the frustrations of the ecumenical movement is how poorly we do the job of “reception” — having agreements “trickle down” or rather “move outward” to those on the ground and in our pews. One of my hopes for the reoganization process now underway at our Church Center is that this process may be facilitated. Starting “at the bottom” is certainly part of this.

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