A Pastoral Letter on Racism and Our Response

June 11, 2020 12:26 pm

June 10, 2020


Beloved Christ Community Members and Friends,

Grace and Peace.

The extraordinary outpouring of grief, protest, and anger over the murder of George Floyd while being arrested by Officers of the Law in Minnesota has rightly captured the attention of us all. This act of violence followed other notable racially-based killings and led to yet more violence, including the death of an African-American police officer defending people and property from rioters.

This is a moment in which we can affirm our Faith, stand shoulder to shoulder for the truth with all who have and continue to suffer from such violence, weep with those who weep, and work to see real and lasting change take place in our community, state, and nation.

Made in God’s Image

We believe that each and every human life is the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), formed by God in the womb (Psalm 139), and as the Psalmist sings, ‘crowned with glory and honor’ (Psalm 8). Each of us- in our array of diverse ethnicity, race, nationality, gender, age, and economic status- are God’s image-bearers. Christians not only affirm this truth for all people at all times in all places but seek to embody it in church communities that reflect the beauty of a unified diversity that reminds us that gathered around the throne of God in worship are ‘​a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages…’ (Revelation 7; see also Acts 13:1).

Yes, Black Lives Really Do Matter

Sometimes people respond, ‘But all lives matter.’ That’s true. All lives do matter, just as we have shown in the paragraph above. However, if all people acted as though all lives matter, there would never have been a need for a Black Lives Matter movement. The tragic truth is that for many years in America, Black Lives have mattered to many far less than they should have.

I heard one African-American sister explain the situation this way: “If there are three buildings on a city block – buildings A, B, & C, and building ‘A’ is on fire, when the fire department shows up to put out the fire, no one says, ‘Hey! You’re only putting water on ‘A’! The other buildings matter too!’ No. No one says that. Our house is on fire and the fire has to be put out. The other houses are ok.”

This is Our House

As I mentioned in my sermon this past Sunday, this experience is not a news story from a distant realm. The story of systemic racism and the fear this engenders is here in Franklin. It is in our hearts. It is a fear that our members face daily. It is a weight, a burden, they carry as they raise their children and make their way in the world. I am asking us all to carry this with them, to ‘bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ’ (Galatians 6). We will not permit our members to stand alone or their children to live in fear without challenging the lies that foster that fear and the symbols and systems that promote it.

This is Part of Our Mission

Since its inception, Christ Community Church has had a deep commitment to multi-racial ministry, with members overseeing the creation of New Hope Academy and others launching Strong Tower Church, all while supporting other ministries with a similar focus such as the Hard Bargain Association and Franktown. Our members are deeply involved in these and other efforts. This is not a new initiative but rather our historic commitment. We have supported many of these works for years and we are looking now for ways to send even more support, including sending a gift to First Missionary Baptist Church to help defray any expenses they incurred by hosting the vigil last week.

Our giving must include people and time as well. WE CAN AND MUST DO MORE. I am asking you to volunteer to help these missions we have consistently supported over many years. Some of our members and officers have born this responsibility for a very long time and they are weary. They need new helpers to join them. Please do so.

New Hope Academy: https://www.nhafranklin.org/
Strong Tower Bible Church: https://strongtowerbiblechurch.com/
Hard Bargain https://www.hardbargain.org/
Franktown Open Hearts
: https://franktownopenhearts.com/

Forums to Promote Understanding

We believe our members need to be theologically challenged to grasp the impact of racism in our hearts and lives and work to overcome its satanic lies. This is why in the past year we have organized C3 Forums on the subject of Art and Race, Colorblindness, and God’s Vision for Diversity and we look forward to future gatherings as we move to the Fall.

Links to our past forums – https://christcommunity.org/forums/

We will continue to work with our members in discipleship and our friends in partnership and prayer to see profound advances in our hearts, our churches, schools, and cities. Our intention is that our mission strengthens the common good and contributes to the flourishing and safety of every person, regardless of race or religion, ethnicity or nationality, gender, or economic status.

What Can We Do?

First, we need to pray ​for the Holy Spirit to be at work in all and through all for all. The Spirit is the Lord and Life-Giver.

“The Lord God…breathed into his nostrils the breath of life… He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit'” (Genesis 2; John 20).

“Prophesy to the Breath O Son of Man…I will cause breath to enter you and you shall live.” (Ezekiel 37)

“I can’t breathe.” – George Floyd

A knee on the neck can only be ultimately answered by overturning the theological error that black men and women and children are not the image of God, fashioned by the hand of the Almighty. This error forgets or denies that breath for us all comes from God and speaks to us of the Spirit of God himself, by whom we have life. A knee on the neck must be overturned by our knees on the ground in humble intercession and lamentation before we rise to our feet to seek the good of the city.

The dying words of George Floyd are a confession/lament of all people of all races – but especially my African-American brothers and sisters – who need the breath of God and Life, as do we all. Let us Call for the Breath.

Pray for your civic leaders. Pray for your police officers and public servants. Pray your church cultivates a strong ministry of reconciliation. Weep with those who weep. Pray for your Pastors. They have to speak to these issues and we sure struggle to do so wisely and well. We too are angry. We too are mourning. We too feel hopeless. And yet… Jesus will make all things new.

Second, action starts with listening and learning​. Watch “Just Mercy”. Watch “A Hidden Life”. Watch ‘Selma’. Go deep in the Biblical wisdom literature, like Ecclesiastes. Lament with the language of the Psalms. LISTEN deeply to your African-American brothers and sisters. Hear their story. Lament some more. Read Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (Read it every year, in fact). Read CS Lewis’ sermon ‘The Weight of Glory.’ Pray Psalm 77. Seek the peace of your city. Listen to the powerful voices of great African-American preachers and teachers, both past and present. From Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. E.V. Hill to Mika Edmundson, Irwyn Ince, Jemar Tisby, Dr. Carl Ellis and Dr. Anthony Bradley – and countless others! – you can receive tremendous insight and wisdom.

START HERE! Read this article ​from my PCA Pastor Colleague Russ Whitfield. Moving Forward – https://unfinished1.com/2020/06/03/moving-forward/?fbclid=IwAR0uE8_SyCjkOA3T6_wJSkj%20AQqRQf_idZYvQWY_wuKtr1mp9cHrK4V7GZEo

Third, gather to worship.​ Lift your voice in lamentation, adoration, and proclamation of God’s mighty deeds. The gathered public worship of God’s people is a mighty weapon in the hand of the Lord to cast down his enemies and heal his people.

Fourth, give what you can to help​ the efforts underway to assist with the promotion of justice and reconciliation in our community: time, finances, energy, encouragement – they all matter. Volunteer at schools, especially New Hope.

Beloved, let us call upon the Lord Jesus who has saved us and called us with a holy calling. Let us turn to one another in love and hope. Let us commit to learning together so that we can grow and serve together. I believe the Lord will help us grow together in faith, hope, and love, and together with all the churches in Franklin, proclaim and live out the good news of Jesus.

In the Love of the Savior,

David Cassidy

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