Over the next few months I plan to take a personal journey. I invite you to consider joining me along the way, particularly if you are a part of Redemption Hill Church.
I am a white pastor in the city center of Washington, DC. The church that I lead gathers for worship on Capitol Hill and generally reflects the demographics of the neighborhood. Still, it is a majority white church in a historically black city. We also meet in the building of a historic African American church. I long deeply for greater diversity. While I recognize that diversity can be cut along many lines, racial diversity is especially important and particularly charged.
I have tried to posture myself as a listener and learner toward those in my city and church who come from various backgrounds and cultural contexts. Still, the depth of my personal research has primarily been relational and conversational. I have increasingly realized the inadequacy of my own grasp on the historical progression and systemic and cultural realities that have led our nation and my city toward ongoing tensions.
Put simply, I have underestimated the challenges.
I want to learn. I want to understand. I want to grow and mature. I want my own assumptions to be challenged. I want to lead our church into a deeper consideration of difficult and sensitive matters. I feel the weight of responsibility to be able to better care for and lead the people in our church as we all bring the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people in our city.
I have compiled a stack of books to start this journey. These have been recommended by friends of mine who are African American and Asian American. I’m sure there are others I should consider, and would love to hear from you if you have recommendations. I plan to read each book and then write a personal response. These responses will not be book reviews. They will not be prescriptive or come from a posture of teaching/instruction. Rather, they will be my personal reflections on the material as it relates to my life, my perspectives, and my calling to pastor a church in DC.
This research and reading will be a supplement to ongoing friendship and conversation I have with people in my neighborhood and my church. I’m also extending that opportunity for conversation to all of you. All I ask is that you be patient as I (we all) stumble forward on this journey. Let's sit together and listen, learn, and grow.
Others on my list:
Racecraft, Karen Fields and Barbara Fields
Root Shock, Fullilove
Doctrine and Race, Mathews
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