(Below is a guest post by Janet Balajthy, a member of Browncroft’s Elder Board. She chaired the Elders’ racial reconciliation work group during 2020. Janet is also a longtime leader with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and she serves on the Board of Roberts Wesleyan College & Northeastern Seminary).
Issues of race are dividing our nation and our city. In light of these challenges, Browncroft’s Elders continue to earnestly seek God’s help in discerning ways our church can respond in faith. We believe the Gospel of Jesus speaks powerfully here.
Racial reconciliation is a journey which at times can be uncomfortable and painful. However, as in all areas of life and faith, when we become more like Jesus as agents of God’s love and reconciliation, there will be joy set before us.
As we pursue reconciliation as individuals and as a church, I have found it helpful to think of our journey as a continuum like the one visualized below (and thanks to Ben Werzinger for the graphic).
At the beginning of our path, we can be tempted to minimize evidence of inequities related to race and culture. But the first step is to intentionally choose to make ourselves aware of both the history and the experience of racial and ethnic minorities in this country. Make no mistake, it is painful to acknowledge this racism. But only investigating and understanding our history can lead us to a response of lament for sins of injustice and to move us forward in compassion.
Once we have opened ourselves to new awareness, we will find that we need courage to apply what we have learned — to make decisions to close the gaps we find in ourselves and in our community. At that point, we each must ask ourselves, “What actions can I take to promote justice and love in my areas of influence?”
Of course, moving forward on any faith journey is hard to do on our own. If we seek to take the step towards advocacy, it is helpful to join with others in pursuit of our biblical call to be a reconciling community. We at Browncroft have this desire for our church family.
Browncroft is actively looking to the Lord for new ways we can increase and enhance our efforts to demonstrate being the Church. Already, we have numerous bridge-building ministry opportunities. We also have a webpage devoted to racial reconciliation. Please take a look at its statements and resources by clicking the button below. One key point you’ll find there is that we recognize this pursuit “will require more time in God’s Word, more open and honest discussion, prayer, repentance, and evaluation of our ministry practices.”
Now I mentioned earlier that making the effort to press forward in this uncomfortable journey of reconciliation can also bring joy. I know this from personal experience.
Certainly, my life has been greatly enriched over the years as I have had the joy of broadening my circle of friends and colleagues to include people of color. Also, the multi-ethnic worship I have experienced in my work with InterVarsity is, I believe, a foretaste of Revelation 7:9.
This journey has also expanded my view of God as I learn how different cultural groups experience aspects of God that are especially meaningful to them. For example, I have been powerfully impressed by the way the Black community resonates with the idea of God as Deliverer in ways that I have not.
I am deeply grateful that the Lord is with us in this journey. When I am honest with myself about my heart issues, I can bring my pain and confusion to the Lord, which then allows Him to do His transforming work in me.
I continue this lifelong journey of reconciliation and invite you to join. When we pray “Thy Kingdom come on earth,” let’s embrace together the vision of serving as agents of reconciliation. As Pastor Rob said on Sunday, let us “live out a reconciliation in our relationships that has been achieved in the finished work of Jesus.”