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The Importance of Reconciliation

"Minorities have long been learning from white Christians. We have learned their hymns, read their books, practiced their theories. But it is time for whites to recognize they can benefit from minority perspectives on life and faith. If whites do learn from minority Christians, this will enrich, embolden, and strengthen the whole church.

"The shift from whites saying, 'What can I do for you?' to 'I need you' would signal that perhaps words and deeds are starting to come together. "

   - Andrés T. Tapia, Christianity Today Magazine

ONLINE ARTICLE: "Modeling a Healthy Gathering on Race" Written by Helen Lee, associate editor at InterVarsity Press and the author of The Missional Mom.

ONLINE VIDEO: Noel Castellanos is the CEO of Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and the author of Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God Is at the Center. In this video, he explains the importance of making long-term commitment when working in underserved communities:

The ELRC is the Ethnics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. They address a number of social justice issues, including racial reconciliation, teaching "We must place any thoughts of racial or ethnic prejudice at the foot of the cross." Their web site includes resources to help churches teach their congregations about the importance of racial reconciliation, including a sermon outline and bulletin handouts which contain these steps:

"How to promote racial reconciliation in your church

  1. "Foster an environment where the gospel is proclaimed and there is a robust understanding of imago dei (the Image of God). God created each one of us in his image and the gospel is for all nations, tribes and tongues.
  2. "Each member has a responsibility to love one's neighbor. In order to do that we must first have transformed hearts. Then we must take action to get to know others - even those not like us. Fill your lunches and dinner tables with people who you can love and serve and who are not like you.
  3. "Promote confession. If we confess our sin we know that God is faithful to forgive us (1 John 1:9). Ask the Lord to reveal any place of pride or prejudice in this area. Recognize that racism can exist in our hearts, even if hidden, but God offers us grace and mercy in the gospel - and reconciliation with God and man.
  4. "Resist apathy. It's easy to think that because we are 50 years past the Civil Rights Movement, we are now in a place to move on. Because we are now united under law, let's work even harder to be united under Christ. We have not arrived and therefore ask the Lord to give you eyes to see the work yet to be done.

In this ELRC video, Daniel Darling and Trillia Newbell discuss the historical and spiritual significance of the Civil Right Act, signed 50 years ago.

ONLINE ARTICLE: Russell Moore and John Perkins Reflect on Racism at ERLC Summit. Written by Kate Shellnutt. Published on ChristianityToday.com, 3/27/2015. Reflections on the twentieth anniversary of a Southern Baptist Convention resolution officially apologizing for any role the church has played in perpetuating racism over its history.

Do Justice is a blog shaped by a variety of voices in Christian Reformed Church examining and reflecting on justice issues. One article, Reconciling with the Church through Worship by Shannon Jammal-Hollemans, suggests eight ways that congregations can cultivate worship practices which promote reconciliation:

  1. Reconciling worship embraces and celebrates the diversity of God's people.
  2. Reconciling worship remembers the causes of the hurting and oppressed.
  3. Reconciling worship recognizes and addresses the need for community.
  4. Reconciling worship fosters space for lament and grief.
  5. Reconciling worship nurtures repentance.
  6. Reconciling worship uses language with care.
  7. Reconciling worship cultivates restoration and hope.
  8. Reconciling worship worships God alone.

Promise Keepers offers these Five Steps Toward Biblical Reconciliation:

  1. seek God's direction about whom you should get to know, discuss meeting regularly with them;
  2. build trust by sharing common experiences, and commit to pray seriously with and for each other;
  3. be a friend, hear their pain, let God transform bitterness into humility and sensitivity;
  4. become a brother by visiting each others homes and churches, restore respect for one another, and practice mutual repentance and forgiveness for attitudes and actions;
  5. share with others your experience with reconciliation.

"What I am learning about grace lifts a weight from my shoulders, which is nothing short of invigorating. When we can forgive and accept those who refuse to listen to God's command to do justice, it allows them to hear God's judgment without feeling a personal judgment from us. Which, in the end gives our message more integrity. The ability to give grace while preaching justice makes our witness even more effective.

"Reconciliation will ultimately mean not only forgiving and tolerating, but fully embracing each other as brothers and sisters, all of us equally unworthy in the eyes of God."
   - Spencer Perkins
"Playing the Grace Card"
Published in Christianity Today

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Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God Is at the Center
by Noel Castellanos
IVP Books

Making Neighborhoods Whole: A Handbook for Christian Community Development
by Wayne Gordon and John M. Perkins
IVP Books

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
Oxford University Press
This book is a challenging examination of the dynamics of race and reconciliation within the evangelical church.

United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race
by Curtiss Paul Deyoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey and Karen Chai Kim
Oxford University Press
A multiethnic group of authors (white, black, asian) explore the need for and benefit of multiracial congregations.

More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel
by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice
InterVarsity Press

Beyond Rhetoric: Reconciliation As a Way of Life
by Samuel George Hines and Curtiss Paul Deyoung
Judson Press

Letters Across the Divide: Two Friends Explore Racism, Friendship and Faith
by David Anderson and Brent Zuercher
Baker Book House

Fulfilling the Dream: Confronting the Challenge of Racism
by Ronice Branding
Chalice Press

Moving Mountains: The Principles and Purposes of Leon Sullivan
by Leon H. Sullivan
Judson Press

The Seed of a Nation: Reconciling with the Birth of America
by Darrell Fields
Covenant Press

Building King's Beloved Community: Foundations for Pastoral Care and Counseling with the Oppressed
by Donald M. Chinula
United Church Press

Enter the River: Healing Steps from White Privilege toward Racial Reconciliation
by Jody Miller Shearer
Herald Press

The Missional Mom
by Helen Lee.
Moody Publishers

Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World
by David A. Livermore
Baker Academic

Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church
By Soong-Chan Rah
Moody Publishers

Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility
By Duane Elmer
Published by IVP Books

The Color of Church: A Biblical and Practical Paradigm for Multiracial Churches
By Rodney Woo
B&H Academic

Multicultural Ministry: Finding Your Church's Unique Rhythm
By David Anderson

ARTICLE: 10 Steps toward Cultural Sensitivity

ARTICLE: Coaching and Culture by Dr. Keith E. Webb, can help you improve your communication skills.

ARTICLE: Friendship Evangelism has practical advice from The World at Your Door, a book by Dr. Tom Phillips and Bob Norsworthy.

ARTICLE: Cross-Cultural Ideas for Churches offers ideas and activities to help internationals feel welcome.

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