Dear Rainbow friends, members, and attenders:
Will you join me in saying, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter? And will you join me in working so that these aren’t just words spoken, but a commitment lived toward a more anti-racist country and world?
For me, Black Lives Matter brings attention to the reality that for too long in this country, black lives haven’t mattered to the same degree as white lives. Black lives are treated differently and are often subjected to prejudice, inequality, and racist policies in all sectors of life, yes, even in churches.
I am frankly appalled by what I continue to learn about racist policies and attitudes undergirding this country. I am appalled by my own slowness in learning. Racism cuts deep in our country and in the Christian church. It’s in the air we breathe. It’s in how we read and apply the Bible. No matter how progressive or non-racist we think we are, white people like me simply have blinders—blinders that cannot and will not be transformed without great intentionality, accountability, and humility.
I therefore humbly ask that you keep me accountable as Rainbow’s pastor, as I recommit toward becoming more anti-racist. And I hope and pray that we will be accountable to one another and to God as we walk this road toward becoming more anti-racist as a church. We are all at different points on this road and I’m grateful to have a church like Rainbow to walk this road with.
Progress is never linear. The road to becoming anti-racist will be long and arduous, but also healing—leading to greater freedom and humanity for all races. May Rainbow continue to be a “school” to this end, as articulated by Rainbow’s first pastor, Stan Bohn, who recently said the following as he reflected on his time in Kansas City in the late 50s and 60s:
“I was invited to join NAACP. I was one of two white people who went to meetings. That was an education. I ended up picketing a store—things I hadn’t grown up doing…When I first went to KC, I thought of Mennonites being mediators and in a few years I realized, no, you take sides. You pick which side you are on and then you relate in a Christian way. You don’t stand as a third party outside of the conflicts.”
In many years from now, when we are asked to take account of how we acted and used our time during this period, what will we say?
Sadly, I recognize these are still just words. Therefore, I will spend time in the coming weeks and months working with committees, such as Rainbow’s Peace and Social Justice Committee, to discern actionable steps. Hopefully we will all find ways of putting into practice this goal, as adopted in 2018 by the Rainbow congregation: Foster a relevant peace church tradition in the 21st century informed by the study of scripture and current societal challenges such as racism, gun violence, immigration and socioeconomic biases and disparities.
God be with us all in this work. May God confront our blinders and lead us toward greater healing and transformation.