A few weeks prior Jenn and I went to the National Museum of American History. We learned that Jefferson, while condemning slavery, owned 600 human beings in his life time. Today, none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. looks across the water at Jefferson. Both honored for their work and lives. It would seem that we have overcome our racism and its stereotypes.
However--Shaima Alwadi, an Iraqi-American, was beaten to death and left with a note "go back to your country, you terrorist."
However--Trayvon Martin, an African-American youth, was shot.
While some argue that the situations surrounding these deaths are unclear, our sisters and brothers from minority groups can tell us of prevalence of racial prejudice. We are certainly not beyond racism.
Many people have done a lot of good work. We should be thankful for their witness. We, however, must take seriously the call to embrace all cultures. No one culture has all that it needs to appreciate the beauty of God and God’s world.
In Revelation 7:9 we read, "After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb...." Recently I heard someone comment on this saying, "If this is how it is going to be in heaven, we better get started here on earth." The 2007 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Query: "Becoming a Multi-Ethnic Church" is part of the process that our denomination has done to begin realizing the vision of Revelation 7:9. This statement even notes that in the Annual Meeting of 1835 we were instructed to "make no difference on account of color."
While there has been progress, we still have work to do. The 2007 Query and earlier documents make a number of recommendations about what we can do and observations about where we are. Among these are:
- seek to be multi-ethnic by truly including persons of different cultural background into our church body,
- seek to understand how we still have racism and racial stereotypes within ourselves despite our good intentions, and
- seek to deeply know people of different cultural backgrounds.
In God's peace,
Advocacy Officer and Ecumencial Peace Coordinator
Church of the Brethren and National Council of Churches
-- For more information about the advocacy and peace witness ministry of the Church of the Brethren contact Nate Hosler, c/o National Council of Churches, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002; firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-481-6943.