Racism, the Church, and Mud Jumping

Racism, The Church, and Mud Jumping

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I was affected by word offerings at my church’s Black History Month service. I will share one of the word offerings that I heard.

After the guest speaker finished his testimony, my pastor asked the other ministers if they had remarks. A minister, who happened to be White, spoke bravely to the audience. On behalf of his race, he apologized for the pain that “his people” caused Black people. He commented that “racism is America’s original sin.”

In my pew, I focused on his thoughtfulness. I hadn’t expected his apology. Instead, I thought he would make the usual remarks that most ministers made at the end of a service. Yet, he turned the service into a moment of reconciliation. He exposed racial wounds and initiated healing.

We have all had to apologize for an offense. An apology makes us ponder our own failings and admit them to another person. Hopefully after the apology, one is able to avoid making the same mistake again. When *Pastor Allen said that he was sorry, he acknowledged a history of slavery, racial epithets, and discriminatory practices.

He did not ignore that these incidents happened and still happen.

He took the microphone and allowed empathy to spill out on Black faces. In my social work program, I hear a lot about empathy. My professors explain how social workers should work vigorously to understand their clients’ lives. To me, empathy is about trading places with another person. Literally, you are shedding away your selfishness. You are crawling into someone’s skin and bones in order to feel their agony.

In America, we need more empathy. In the Church, empathy should invade us. Though, empathy can make us uncomfortable. When believers of color decide to express the impact of racism in their lives to White believers, will the dialogue get hard? If it does, I deem that it needed to land in that place.

We have to jump into the mud. Our shoes must rip apart. Our jeans should get filled with muck. Then, we are not side stepping around people’s experiences with race and racism.

In Relevant Magazine’s “Justice for Black Lives Must Begin With Us,” Propaganda, a Christian hip hop artist, echoed my yearning for empathy and dialogue. The interviewer noted that the Church has not always strived to chat about racism. He asked Propaganda how the Church should handle it.

He stated: “I think at the end of the day, what I would want to hear from a pulpit, and what I think would be very helpful, is first of all an acknowledgement of our feelings and of the situation. And guide people on how the Gospel applies to us moving forward” (source: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/justice-black-lives-must-begin-us-part-2).

The Gospel is our response to racism. Apologies and forgiveness move us closer to love.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

We love when we listen to each other’s stories. We offer each other Kleenex during the tears. We clasp each other’s hands and pray. We hug the mud as *Pastor Allen did.

*name changed to respect his privacy

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13 thoughts on “Racism, the Church, and Mud Jumping

    • Thanks again for reading Claire! I’m so glad we are talking about these tough topics! I really appreciate Propaganda’s honesty along with other Christian hip hop artists. They are using their music to initiate dialogue, prayer, and action! Hmmm…the site is probably still the same. You may be viewing my blog on your computer which looks different than looking on your phone.

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  1. Yes!!! Amen. I read Propaganda’s eloquent response and was moved. Moved! I’m so glad you are touching on this. It’s important. My husband constantly tells me, we need an apology and the acknowledgment that it happens and continues to. We, the church, must be flooded with empathy. God bless you and your voice. 💕🙏🏽

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    • Thanks so much Carolina for reading and commenting! I appreciate it, friend! You are so encouraging. And Propaganda got me too! He is really using his music/spoken word platform to speak on tough issues like racism. I so agree with your husband. The apology and acknowledgement matters. Racism is real and it impacts us all so there is no reason to avoid talking about it or praying about it. God bless you too! 🙂

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  2. It’s so amazing when you have children of God live their lives and acknowledge the ugliest truths about life, but from a Christ like manner! It’s amazing what happens when, as you have clearly shared, empathize and actually put yourself in another’s skin, body, situation, mind, everything! For this man to stand up in front of a congregation of people who have been hurt over and over again, you know there is a renewing of his mind going on and the Spirit of God really at work in His life! Thank you for giving me something soo important to think about! There is no other greater social justice activist than Christ Himself, and if we can learn to love another and to talk about the burns and bruises from our past in such a way that He would want us to, there is a change that we can make within us, to actually start the healing process for our people! Thank you for sharing!

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    • Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, Eleanor! I love everything that you have written! I definitely agree with you that this minister is self-aware and has spent some time with God on the subject of racism. He had to go on a journey in order to be pushed to apologize to black folks. It just felt like a Holy Spirit led moment.

      I love this comment: “There is no other greater social justice activist than Christ Himself, and if we can learn to love another and to talk about the burns and bruises from our past in such a way that He would want us to, there is a change that we can make within us, to actually start the healing process for our people!”

      Jesus is all about love and justice. If He is comprised of these ideals, we, as believers, should be love and justice minded as well.

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  3. Monica! I LOVE this post on so many levels. I read that article in Relevant and was SO moved. I purchased the magazine. (I think it also had an interview with David Oyelowo.)

    Yes, we as the church DO have the answer for racism and overcoming injustice. There are so many instances of Jesus reaching out and I agree with Eleanor that he was the ultimate activist–take the woman at the well, the woman taken in adultery, the Good Samaritan. Thank you for sharing that moment from the Black History program hearing this story from Pastor Allen makes my heart so happy. It means we are moving towards healing.

    Also, check out Coach Bill McCartney ( I watched his 30 for 30 not too long ago) and he also has a heart for racial reconciliation. It begins with the church–with us.

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    • Hey Simone! Thanks so much for reading and sharing all of your comments! I soooo appreciate it as always. From time to time, I like reading Relevant online. A lot of their articles are thought-provoking. Btw, David Oyelowo was great in the movie, “Selma.” You and Eleanor have definitely hit the nail on the head with equating Jesus to an activist. In all of those examples, you just named, Jesus was reaching out to marginalized. To the least of these. And He didn’t care what other folks thought about Him for reaching out. He did just it, in His power and love. It’s really amazing to think about. And no problem…I am just glad that I was able to witness that moment with Pastor Allen. It was a beautiful and inspiring. Thanks for the heads up about Coach McCartney. I will check him out. 🙂

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  4. During the month of February, I heard 2 sermons on racism. One pastor danced around it and was afraid (in my estimation) to talk about the lingering pain of racism. Because he wasn’t black he didn’t seem to have a deep understanding of how racism still hurts and divides. He is Japanese so he referenced the Japanese internment and how that impacted his family. So he got points for trying but he didn’t know how to go further.
    The second sermon was from a Black pastor. If you expected it to be pro – Black but not at the exclusion of Christ and his love. He went so far as to say pro- Black is wrong if it alienates you from Christ and from others. That was brave and true. He was wise beyond his years.
    God’s Love covers a multitude of sins. I wish America would deal with the sin of slavery – it would have a huge impact on how we treat each other today.
    I’m glad I stopped by.

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  5. Hey Nylse! Thanks so much for stopping by! I’m so glad that you did! 🙂 I enjoyed reading your comments/perspective. It’s interesting to me how both pastors talked about the topic of racism. It’s definitely painful to talk about, so I can see why it seemed as though the first pastor struggled with the topic. I give him kudos for broaching the topic. I think there is a lot to learn about how Americans treated Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans. That’s another sin of racism-that America put Japanese Americans in internment camps. I also give kudos to the second pastor for sharing his honest thoughts. I agree with you that God’s love covers a multitude of sins. Love and empathy work hand in hand. I think if we held onto God’s love more, we could begin to heal from racial wounds. Thanks again for stopping by, sister!

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  6. Refreshing. I am so glad that Pastor Allen’s speech brought healing. Racism is real and horrible. I see it in my community to this day. I hate that people hate. I pray for restoration of love. I pray for forgiveness from black people too. I am so sorry for the hate that continues in this country. I pray God will bring love and restoration.

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    • Hey Mary! Thanks so much for stopping by! You’re fabulous! 🙂 I agree with you that racism is so horrible and sinful. I am glad that when I feel torn down by racism that I can rest in God’s love. Thank you for your sweet words and for your apology. It takes a lot of courage to apology so I acknowledge that.

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