Pastor K. Marshall Williams has experienced what researchers term “post traumatic slave syndrome,” the trauma and pain African Americans suffer from societal and institutional racism and marginalization.
Racial conciliation, the process of empathizing with this trauma and pain, is necessary to achieve racial reconciliation, Williams told Baptist Press in advance of a forum he’s hosting Feb. 23 on the subject at his pastorate, Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia.
“Listening, learning, understanding and empathizing with the deep hurts and wounds of generational trauma due to our history of slavery, racism, oppression, injustice and its repercussions,” is conciliation, Williams said. “After being reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, this is the next step.
“Authentic forgiveness, healing and adherence to the biblical mandate of reconciliation are then possible as a catalyst to usher in inexplicable unity in the body of Christ,” Williams told BP. “Then we can be true ministers of reconciliation!”
Mark Croston, director of National Black and Western Church Partnerships with LifeWay Christian Resources; Barry Whitworth, executive director of the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania and South Jersey (BRN); and Stanley Williams, BRN’s director of student ministry, are among program speakers and panelists.
The type of trauma Williams describes is real, confirms psychologist and forum panelist Philip Monroe, a trauma specialist with the American Bible Society.
“When we are overwhelmed with fear, horror and helplessness in the face of what seems like life-threatening experiences, we can become traumatized,” Monroe said. “Alternatively, chronic stress found in every day events such as living in a society that favors one group over another can lead to the same trauma symptoms.
“Healing begins when traumatized people discover they are not alone,” Monroe said, “and that God and their neighbors are able to hear and lament with them their deep losses.”
The event, “Trauma Healing and Racial Conciliation/Reconciliation,” will examine “how the Gospel can demolish and break the strongholds of sin, core wounds and hurts that manifest in personal, systematic and institutional racism and oppression,” according to promotional materials. Essence Magazine bestselling author and award winning journalist Solomon Jones will moderate.
Christians are responsible for responding to such sin, wounds and hurts, Croston told BP.
“We love to pray, Matthew 6:10, ‘Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…,” Croston said, “but we often don’t make the connection with Revelation 7:9 that says in Heaven, … I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’
The trauma of systemic injustice and oppression can linger for generations, Monroe said.
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Source: Baptist Press