“The work of reconciliation is challenging to preach, and even more challenging to practice,” said Erica Whitaker, senior pastor of Buechel Park Baptist Church, which partners with Von Speigel Missionary Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.
The 2019 General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship opened Wednesday with a day focused on racial justice, including worship testimonies from pastors deeply engaged in the work toward racial justice and reconciliation.
For Buechel Park, the work of racial reconciliation and justice required rethinking and relearning around basic biblical stories of salvation and working against the knee-jerk reaction to “fix” things in their partner church.
“We have a long way to go but we’ve come so far,” Whitaker explained. “We have done the hard work of getting out of the land of comfort zones, crossing the sea of the stale, everyday ministry, and entering the wilderness where God shapes and forms a community who is always willing to risk failure for the sake of salvation.”
Scott Dickison, pastor of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon, Ga., shared the fear of a church member prior to a pilgrimage to Montgomery, Ala., with members of partner congregation The First Baptist Church in Macon.
“My hope — and my fear — is that I’ll feel responsible,” the church member told Dickison.
Dickison shared that the hard work of reconciliation started with Easter egg hunts, youth trips, and potluck suppers — worshipping around tables and breaking bread together as all share hopes and fears. The pilgrimage to Montgomery brought these partners out from around the table, where they were confronted with their hopes and fears head on, he noted.
“My hope,” said Dickison, “is that this shared experience will lead us into the next phase of our covenant together, in which we at the First Baptist Church of Christ will need to dig deeper into this painful history in order to confront our painful present.”
This opening worship session of the 2019 General Assembly concluded with a time together around the table of communion to break bread and live into the hope brought in Christ.
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Source: Word and Way