I think we’ve all heard that “Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week.” I think if we all looked around our church pews on any given Sunday this can be seen vividly.
I’ve been asked in the past how or rather why my husband and I transitioned from all we’ve ever known in the predominately black church to worship in a mostly white church. At this point, it’s been about eight+ years since we’ve made the switch. This is a great question that can partially be answered with a question. If NO ONE crosses those “pew lines” when will this ever change? How will there ever be churches that truly represent what heaven looks like if no one is willing to get outside of their comfort zones?
Most of my life I’ve gone to churches filled with black people and although there were challenges, as found in any church, I was pretty comfortable. I knew the flow of church, I knew and loved the music, and we talked about and understood the things that affected us as African Americans. Why would anyone give up all of that for the unknown? Maybe the exact way the Israelites did on their journey into the promise land. Perhaps by faith, coupled unfortunately with complaints along the way (especially during the uncomfortable times); prayerfully holding onto the belief that God knows exactly what He was doing.
So my answer, simply put, Wesley and I got to a place where we just needed a change. We didn’t go out seeking a white church it just happens to be where God placed us and it’s a decision to this day we don’t regret. To be transparent, however, I did feel this emotional pull that maybe we were walking away from our roots or that perhaps no one would understand or approve of our switch.
To make things crystal clear, I absolutely LOVE being African American! We have such a rich and empowering history to be proud of even in the midst of oppression and hate we’ve endured to this present day. I graduated from a Historically Black University-Tennessee State University and pledged into an elite Black Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to which I am blessed and honored to be a part of. I am purposeful in teaching my girls that their skin color is gorgeous and their naturally kinky curly hair is EVERYTHING! I want them to love their very blackness that the world around them may try to devalue because of a lack of understanding.
In our church, Wes and I have been loved on and supported in so many positive ways beyond what we can explain and we have taken advantage of the amazing opportunities it has provided. Have there been moments of loneliness- of course! I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I’d say some of the most lonely times was during the past (extremely divisive) Presidential election and whenever major acts of racism would occur against African Americans in the news. These were times many of our white friends and church members would become either quiet and/or sometimes dismissive indirectly of the issues. Social media, of course, didn’t make things any easier! On one hand I had people who knew, understood, and cared about what affects African Americans and on the other hand, I had people who I felt I had to tiptoe around racial conversations as to not make them feel uncomfortable- the exact feeling I know all too well.
Lately, I’ve found a boldness in Christ to speak up and essentially call sin out for what it is…SIN! Racial injustice and discriminative viewpoints are not of God! I am most shocked at how much “church folks” who claim Jesus as Lord of their lives could have the biggest problem with race and equality? It makes no sense to me, but at this point to not talk about race and unity in the church would be a disservice, even if it makes some uncomfortable.
My decision to finally speak up and not tiptoe around race has actually allowed deeper relationships and conversations with my white brothers and sisters who actually want to go deeper in their understanding of race relations but just didn’t know exactly how to start those conversations. I feel a sort of freedom in knowing that God has placed amazing people of all races and nationalities in my life that truly care. This helps combat the feeling I get when I’m around people who just don’t get it and would rather continue in foolishness than ever open their minds to anything outside of themselves.
Will things ever be perfect when it comes to race relations this side of heaven- Nope, but Wes and I are exactly in the church where God has placed us especially if He wants to use us to serve and help in any way bridge the gap.