Justice and Mercy

A Resolution Against Racism

Overview

Our ethos is carried out in many ways including acts of justice and mercy in all areas of life. One of the greatest areas of injustice in our nation’s history is racism, which has been called America’s “original sin.” The Overseer Team affirms the following resolution adopted by our denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), at its 1992 General Conference. The EFCA passed this resolution in the wake of the beating of Rodney King in 1991, but it also speaks broadly to occurrences of racism before and since then. This resolution, with minor adaptations for the context of our local church, reflects the theology and mission of Trinity City Church.

The Sin of Racism

As Christians, we deplore racism as sin against fellow human beings who are created in the image of God. Racism has undergone a recent resur­gence with an increase in violence evidenced by racial confrontations on college campuses, numerous racially biased crimes, the increased visibility and boldness of hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and various other separatist movements. Racism is also present in more subtle and passive forms in institutional settings where systems of discrimination prevent the upward mobility of gifted and qualified individuals. It is also present in racially discriminatory housing patterns, in the neglect and avoidance of people who are racially different, in the use of racially offensive lan­guage and humor, and at the level of individual prejudices and biases which heighten tension and perpetuate misunderstanding between racially different people. Even though our society benefits from progress made in the area of racial harmony during and following the Civil Rights movement, we believe that racism continues to exist and, at the present time, appears to have found renewed energy.

Racism is an irrational belief in the superiority of one's ethnic or racial group causing the hatred of those of another group. Inequalities of eco­nomic and political resources and competition for economic and political advantage often causes this irrational belief to surface. In America, this unhealthy attitude of racial and ethnic superiority has resulted in discri­mination predominantly by whites against people of color such as Asians, African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics. It also has provoked a racist response against the dominant culture and often heightened tensions between minority groups. God's ideal is that humans exist in harmonious relationships regardless of racial and ethnic differences (Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:12-13, Gal. 3:28, Rev. 5:9-10), but racism militates against the formation of these harmonious relationships.

Resolutions for the Church

Realizing that even as Christians we are not immune to the sin of racism, we resolve first of all to search our own hearts and repent of any racist attitudes we may have no matter how subtle. We further resolve to work toward eliminating racism in our local churches, ministry affiliations, and partner organizations. Some ways in which we can work are:

  • Speaking out against racism in whatever setting we find ourselves.
  • Preparing spiritually for the inevitable tensions and conflicts which will threaten the unity of the church as it continues to become more multi-ethnic and multi-racial in composition.
  • Teaching in our homes and in our churches against racism and noting God's desire for reconciliation between races (Eph. 2:14).
  • Developing relationships of mutual education and submission (Eph. 5:21) with people of different races on both an individual and congregational level.
  • Celebrating the presence and participation of our brothers and sisters in Christ from all ethnic and racial backgrounds in our local churches, ministry affiliations, and partner organizations.

Concluding Prayer

Dear God, we repent and turn back, that our sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from your presence (Acts 3:19-20). “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name” (Dan. 9:18-19, NIV). In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


See The Gospel, Racism and the EFCA: Resolution (1992) and Resolve for the original resolution.

For more commentary on this issue from EFCA leaders, see also "An Open Letter to Those Who are Struggling," by Alejandro Mandes; and "The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the EFCA, and Racism," by Greg Strand. The concluding prayer above is from Strand's post. 

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The Community Prayer Service at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church

Matt Porter participated in the Community Prayer Service at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on July 11th along with others from Trinity City Church. Church leaders organized this time of prayer because of the tragic loss of lives in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, and Dallas. In this post, Matt summarizes this amazing evening of unity, lament, and prayer. Pictures are from Transform MN and Carl Nelson.  


Joining hands in prayer and unity.  Photo credit: Carl Nelson

Joining hands in prayer and unity.

Photo credit: Carl Nelson

“Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more. Where grace is found is where You are. And where You are Lord I am free. Holiness is Christ in me.” On Monday night at 7:00, several hundred brothers and sisters in Christ from many races, generations, and congregations around the Twin Cities worshipped God together with these lyrics in the tightly packed sanctuary of Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Rev. Billy Russell speaks to the crowd.  Photo Credit: Transform MN

Rev. Billy Russell speaks to the crowd.

Photo Credit: Transform MN

Greater Friendship Reverend Billy Russell, President of the Minnesota State Baptist Association, started the night’s discussion by impleading the church, “We need to be together at a time like this . . . This Christian life is a life of love, and that love is expressed in unity.” He spoke about the recent tearful tragedies in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and especially the Twin cities with the shooting deaths of Philando Castile and two-year-old Le’Vonte King Jason Jones. Reverend Russell encouraging the church that “As long as there is love, we will stand.”  

Pastor Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church led congregants in lamenting not only recent events, but the larger history of the church’s toleration and even justification of slavery, discrimination, and a host of societal ills. He encouraged the church to gather at the throne of God. Only from strength found at the throne of God can we show the truest love and pair loving words with loving actions.  

Karl Nelson of the church-equipping ministry Transform Minnesota introduced local pastors and church leaders, including Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple International Ministries, Bethel’s Campus Pastor Laurel Bunker, and North Minneapolis community ministry Hope United’s Executive Director Reverend Richard Coleman, who led congregants in corporate and small-group prayer. Bishop Howell and Reverend Coleman referenced the story of Jesus’ weeping and raising Lazarus from the dead found in John 12, noting the importance of lamenting what the church has allowed our society to become, yet also trusting in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.  

Pastor Bunker instructed “It’s important that the church be people out on the streets.” She encouraged Christians to think about places of darkness in society where we may be uncomfortable going, and praying for God to burden our souls with those communities until we take action. Pastor Bunker will be joining an expected one million people coming together in Washington, DC on July 16 to pray for our nation (more information at Reset 2016).

Reverend Alfred Babington-Johnson, CEO and President of the ministry Stairstep Foundation, reminded the church that “we have work to do” and read Ephesians 2:10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (ESV).” He reported action steps that Pastors of the local African American Church Coalition have recently discussed and approved in order to combat violence in the community that is largely attributable to economic and educational deprivation of as well as discrimination against the African-American community. The four major action steps Reverend Babington-Johnson reported are:  

  1. Raise $100,000 over the next 12 months in order to put youth workers into the community.  $25,000 has already been raised toward this goal.

  2. Provide job training for former inmates, addicts, and others “folks coming out of the dark into the light.”

  3. Continue partnership with Stairstep, Merge, and other ministries and Minnesota legislators to secure GED funding.

  4. Train 100 pastors in “mental health first-aid” and equip black psychologists to better address the “state of trauma” that the African-American community is living in.  

Reverend Babington-Johnson encouraged local churches to join in prayer and cheerful giving in order to make these goals a reality. More information on this recent initiative can be found at Transform MN's website.  

After songs of worship, Urban Refuge Reverend Terrence Rollerson concluded the service with prayer. Many gathered stuck around after the service for fellowship and to make connections.

Feel like you missed out? Don’t worry—Reverend Billy Russell was happy to say “We’re gonna do this again.” Stay tuned at Transform MN for more information on future gatherings.

Pastor Jason Meyer address the crowd.  Photo Credit: Transform MN. 

Pastor Jason Meyer address the crowd.

Photo Credit: Transform MN. 

How to Pray for North MPLS

I recently asked Scott Ginn, the Executive Director of Antioch Ministries in North Minneapolis, how we can be praying for this community (the video below gives an overview of this ministry). Here is Scott's response:

Please continue to pray for justice and peace. Pray for our Antioch youth as they process what's happening. For some it's very traumatic, for others, they don't know much about what's going on. Our leaders are just needing discernment for how we engage with the kids and being able to know where each of them are at in their processing, and to meet them there. We are trusting God's Spirit to give us this wisdom moment by moment.

On the broader community level, pray that the police will put down their weapons and not escalate things. Pray for more transparency in the process. Pray that the protestors can continue to have the strength to be peaceful and to self-regulate those who are not being peaceful as it hurts the cause and the voice. Pray that people will seek to listen, seek to understand, learn the history of oppression in this country, because it helps put understanding to our present circumstances.

Pray that the community – all involved – will come together. I, as well as some other Antioch folks, have spent some time down at the precinct. I was there [recently] and it honestly felt like church. People bringing firewood, food, warm clothes to each other. Talking together, people praying over the space, listening to each other. Thankful hearts. Just happy to be together.

Pray for the presence of God to be there, and pray for His people to show up.

Trinity City Church, let's be in prayer.

Here is a video overview of Antioch Ministries:

Antioch_logo_and-tails
Antioch_logo_and-tails

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Posted by Pastor Bryan