To the congregants, visitors and supporters of New Beginnings Community Church,
Over the past 22 days, in light of what is taking place all around the world at the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, there has been a renaissance and a re awakening of the plight that people of colour have been faced with for hundred of years. As a pastor and to be more specific a Black pastor, I find myself more now than ever burdened with the responsibility to be a voice to the voiceless, the disenfranchised, the neglected and the abused. I firmly believe that while the church is called to be Gods voice in a world marred by sin, we must also be the social conscience of the culture, and it is out of this conviction that I deem it necessary to write to you and to share with you where I stand and where our church, New Beginnings Community Church stands and how we will respond to racism on every level.
What we have seen over the past few weeks with the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd has been gut-wrenching, tragic, and traumatic on many levels. We have seen the demonic spirit of racism manifest itself again. The events that have recently happened are nothing new. It’s been happening for years. Decades. Centuries. If we take a brief look at history, we have seen the era of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation, to name a few, all of which have left the residue of oppression that we see playing out today.
The sin of racism has been happening for some time and is still at work in our day. Racism hasn’t gone anywhere; it has become more sophisticated and systemic. For generations, countless Black lives have experienced injustice, oppression, and pain all at the hands of racism. Families have lost sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers due to racism, from lynching to police brutality. This isn’t just history; it’s happening now.
As followers of Jesus, we can’t be silent on this issue. Racism is not a political issue; it’s a biblical one. Racism is failing to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is failing to recognize that every person has been created in the likeness and image of God, no matter how light or dark their skin may be. The Bible says in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
What John sees while under exile in Patmos is a picture of eternity and what is to come. It is a picture of the Kingdom of God in its radiance, splendor, and beauty. It is a multiethnic picture of people gathered under one name, Jesus. Once again, we cannot be silent on this issue at the expense of seeing injustice continue.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,who happens to be one of my role models in his literary manuscript ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’, said the following words,
“Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Dr. King’s letter was an indictment and a call to action to white brothers and sisters in Christ, who were often critical of his voice while doing little to nothing to advocate for the voice of those oppressed. Let that not be said of us in this crucial moment.
We believe that God has positioned us as NEW BEGINNINGS COMMUNITY CHURCH for such a time as this. As a church made up of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, we have the opportunity to boldly come against the sin of racism and present to the world God’s beautiful picture of His Kingdom here in Durham and to a greater degree on earth as it is in heaven. For this to happen, we have to be willing to be honest about racism and examine our hearts to see our blind spots that would cause us to be dismissive or insensitive in this area. This involves us being willing to have difficult conversations that we may have never engaged in, confessing our shortcomings, and repenting of our sin. Reconciliation can’t take place without there first being repentance and remorse over the sin of racism and the injustices it has caused. If we steward this moment in time well, we can be a voice of healing and reconciliation in our community.
At NEW BEGINNINGS COMMUNITY CHURCH, we are striving to be a life-giving church that reaches diverse people throughout our community and eventually around the world. We are not a BLACK church or a WEST INDIAN church. We are a church for all people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. Having said that as your Pastor and as a church, we must and we will be taking practical steps to be a part of bridging the racial and ethnic divides.
What Can We Do?
Here are some of the actions that we will be taking immediately and over the coming years, in order to be a culturally diverse congregation and truly representing the kingdom of God in the earth and our community.
- Diversifying our NEW BEGINNINGS leadership team and staff.
- Ensuring the diversity of our speakers in our Worship Services, Prayer Breakfasts and other church events.
- Hosting conversations that address racism with a Biblical approach.
- Creating a series of meetups for churches in our municipality to foster unity and reconciliation in our city.
- Calling the NBCC Family to pray and fast against racism.
These are just a few of the steps that we are taking so that our church is equipped to be a life-giving church that combats racism.
Finally, as the Church, let us be advocates for justice (Isaiah 1:17). Let us be advocates for love. Let us be advocates for unity. As the Apostle Paul mentions, let us as pastors and leaders in our communities, be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19), showing how Jesus has torn down the dividing walls of hostility, even the wall of racism.