The Minneapolis/St. Paul Church of Christ hosted its annual Simunye Weekend Celebration on October 22-23, 2016. "Simunye" is a Zulu term which means "we are one." The special guest speakers for the weekend were Steve and Carol Mukenya. Steve and Carol have led churches in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Nairobi, Kenya; Lusaka, Zambia; and currently lead the church in Gwinnett County, Atlanta.
Why this? Why now? Why me?
During my 45 plus years of ministry, I have served in many roles in many places. When I turned 65, I resigned from my ministry staff role in Phoenix and began a teaching ministry. The advice I received from trusted, wise brothers about my future legacy was that my greatest contribution would come through leadership training and writing. Hence I embarked on the leadership training part, and pursued it vigorously for about seven years. Then we moved to Dallas and I served as a part-time staff person in 2015. Through these eight years, I wrote only one full length book and did second editions on a couple of others. I was unable to concentrate on writing while still considered even a part-time staff member. It was purely my problem, for the Dallas leadership didn’t put any pressure on me at all. This issue, along with continuing to have friends younger than I am die, led me to end the part-time staff involvement and devote 2016 to writing.
A few weeks ago I had a discussion with Jason Alexander, a teacher here at Gateway City Church. Jason brought up the issue of racism and its painful effect on the church. We had a great talk about the necessity of addressing this need in a straightforward, meaningful way. The next day Lori and I received an email from Yolanda Suber, an amazing sister here in St. Louis. Recent events in the United States have caused great pain in our cities, our neighborhoods and our churches. Yolanda asked if she could get some time with us to talk.
Few subjects are more emotionally charged than racism. We don’t like to be the recipients of it, and we don’t like to be accused of it. As a result, talking about it is problematic. It frequently does more harm than good because of the sensitivity of the subject. And yet, if we don’t talk about it, that’s even worse, since any subject that elicits that much emotion from us is effecting our hearts and our relationships. This is especially true in the church, where we are vulnerable with each other -- more than we probably realize.
It has been an onslaught of events. And from them we knew we were all being attacked! However, the perpetrator is not an earthly terrorist organization that can be seen. No, this evil force is none other than Satan himself, along with, “…the rulers, the authorities, and the power of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our world and our very nation is being torn apart by the crippling manacles of hatred on all levels; from one man to another, from one religion to another, from one tribe to another, from one race to another, from one class to another, and yes, from one house to another.
One month ago, Disciples Today launched a new column called Oneness to address the racial crisis in the U.S. We have been encouraged by the number of sermons we've seen on this topic, and recommend the following as resources to equip our hearts and minds to grow in our love and unity.
Editor's note: This article is the fourth and fifth part of a series describing the journey to focus on African-Americans in the Denver Church of Christ. Read Part I-Part II and Part III here. Chris Jacobs is an elder in Denver, and lived in Tokyo for many years, serving as an administrator for many of the Asian churches in our fellowship. These articles can be found on his blog.
In February of this year, 2016, we were excited to welcome Scott and Thereasa Kirkpatrick to Denver. Scott and Thereasa lead in the church in Columbia, South Carolina and are involved with racial diversity on a global level for the International Churches of Christ. Wade Cook, an evangelist, took the lead and was fully supported by our elders and evangelists. We planned a diversity weekend in honor of Black History Month. Scott and Thereasa spoke to the church on Saturday evening, teaching a Biblical and practical lesson on black relations and culture in the U.S. I invite you to listen to their message: Black History Month 2016 Devotional.
Editor's note: This article is the third part of a series describing the journey to focus on African-Americans in the Denver Church of Christ. Read Part I-II and Part IV-V. Chris Jacobs is an elder in Denver, and lived in Tokyo for many years, serving as an administrator for many of the Asian churches in our fellowship. These articles can be found on his blog.
Editor's note: This article is the first two parts of a series describing the journey to focus on African-Americans in the Denver Church of Christ. In the coming week, we will publish Parts III, IV, and V. Chris Jacobs is an elder in Denver, and lived in Tokyo for many years, serving as an administrator for many of the Asian churches in our fellowship. These articles can be found on his blog.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23