Lessons on the Journey Towards Reconciliation

Pastor Scott Taylor from Grace Evangelical Free Church in Stamford, CT shares what he has learned along the journey of becoming a multi-racial and multi-cultural church.

Disclaimer: These lessons have involved a lot of stumbling, fumbling, and kicking the ball; yet even in spite of many obvious missteps there have been a lot of kingdom victories.  

1. Building friendships across ethnic and cultural lines is essential.
There is no shortcut to any reconciliation. It requires love, time, sacrifice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, prayer, tears, Bible study, conflict, forgiveness and a lot of listening.

In 1985 Bob and Tina Daniel and their children walked into our all-white church. Over the next three years, Bob and I met weekly and developed a close friendship that has endured over 30 years. In the end, Bob and Tina are the real heroes of this story. Without their relational velcro we would not have made this journey. Reconciliation will only occur with courageous people pursuing it.

Warning: don’t make people your projects. We must genuinely pursue them as friends and do life with them. When you love someone, you start to care about the things that are important to them; that is our calling.

Pastoral takeaways:Ask God to bring one new friend from another group into your life. Be intentional in really loving them. Genuinely loving people is 90% of the road to reconciliation.

2. Understand the 75% issue.
If you ask blacks, “Is there racism in America?”, 75% will definitely say “Yes.”. If you ask whites the same question, 75% will definitely say “No.”  

Make it your mission to understand the other 75%.  

The only way to do this is to get to know their stories, their struggles, their anger and their fears.  Here are a few of the ones I’ve heard:

I played football with a group of young black men who would not cross a city boundary line into the neighboring white suburb.  Their fear was based on how cops had treated them in the past. 

Margaret is an extremely friendly and gifted woman who attended our church.  She has two advanced degrees in food science and received a patent for a process for Dunkin Donuts. Yet she could not get a job in a neighboring town because she was black. The doctor interviewing her told her his patients would not want to be treated by a black nutritionist.

Connie, another woman in our church, felt she could not move up in her job because she was black so she had to switch jobs.

My black neighbors had the “N” shouted at them as a car drove down our street.

Pastoral takeaways:The most important words on this journey are  “Help me understand.” Listen for a few hours before contributing to the conversation.
 

3. You need a good friend to help you remove your blinders.
Blinders are used on horses to limit seeing the whole picture. They are helpful for horses but not for pastors seeking to build multicultural churches. It is absolutely necessary to have a trusted and honest friend.

Many years ago I enjoyed a delicious BBQ meal cooked by my wife. At the end of the meal she told me, “You have sauce all over your face; you’d better wash it off.”  I became distracted and forgot to do so. I went to three stores that afternoon and at each store people snickered. No one shared with me what was an obviously a blind spot. It wasn’t until I got home that my wife told me the truth. In the same way, pastors need someone to tell them the truth about their own prejudices and ignorance of racial issues.

One day I was feeling rather content that I was making good progress on the journey towards reconciliation. I was talking with Bob about the possibility that I might one day have black grandchildren because my adopted daughter is biracial. Bob firmly asked me, “Scott, did you ever consider your (white) sons might marry a person of color?”

That possibility had never entered my mind; I had blinders on.

Pastoral takeaways: We need to have friends who will point out the racial blinders we have on that limit our view of the world.

4. Sharing power is essential for unity.
Promise Keepers was a phenomenon in the church during the 90’s. And while not all their practices and objectives were missional, they did one thing well. They had their platforms reflect Revelation 7. They put people from every nation, tribe, people and language in leadership roles.  We have adopted this as one of our core values at Grace. We have a multicultural leadership community, multicultural pulpit supply and make it a point to have people of all ethnicities participating in the service.

Pastoral takeaways: Your church is going to become what is on your platform and in your leadership.  Be sure to have multicultural, multigenerational, and both male and female representation up front.

5. Hard work is essential for unity. 
Satan has owned racism for millenniums; he is not going to give back this turf without a fight.  If you lead your church towards the Revelation 7 goal, you will experience conflict, push back, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. It is important to have a clear conflict resolution strategy in place.

Everyone needs to agree ahead of time what is going to occur next when you have cultural selfishness rear its ugly head.

Pastoral takeaways: Your church is going to have conflict regardless of what you do. Why not pick the worthwhile battles that God is calling us to?

6. Celebrating diversity every week is essential.
The pursuit of a multicultural church is not a once-a-year effort. Every week intentionally celebrate the different tribes that are in your church.

Pastoral takeaways: Here are a few ways we practice this.

Sing the whole music spectrum…. hymns, choruses, gospel music, Latino songs, children’s songs, etc

Sing part of a song in a different language

Have testimonies from around the world

Pray for the nations of the world

On Pentecost have every tribe in your church read part of Acts 2 in their native tongue and end with a few verses read simultaneously in all the languages

At Christmas share the different ways nations celebrate the day

Host an International Sunday and encourage folks to come dressed in their ethnic clothes

Have an international potluck and ask everyone to bring dishes that reflect their culture

7. The Gospel is our only hope.
The work of Christ alone changes us from the inside out. In the nursery rhyme Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put him together again.

While governmental laws and policy are mission critical for justice, the gospel is mission critical for reconciliation. Unless Jesus changes our hearts, we will never experience reconciliation.

Pastoral takeaways: Pastors wear many hats in churches. One of those hats must be Chief of Reconciliation. Don’t expect anyone to step up and lead the charge. If reconciliation is going to happen in your church you need to research it, champion it, live it, and keep it as a top priority.

 

Scott Taylor

NEDA Conference

October 2018

 

 

Celebrating 30 Years of Ministry with Paul Reid

On June 16, Hope International Church in Waltham MA celebrated Pastor Paul Reid's retirement after 30 years of ministry.  Paul shared during the service about the "elephant in the room" -  that this is an earlier retirement than expected due to the fact that Paul has been diagnosed with a rare degenerative, neurological disease called Fahr's.  Paul encouraged everyone to "take a ride on this elephant" and learn about the goodness of God that Paul has come to know in suffering.  You can listen to this message below.    

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Paul has also written a short book titled "Light and Momentary" describing his journey over the past few years.  He would be happy to share this book with anyone who would like a copy.  Please contact Paul if you are interested.  

Pastor Paul sharing during the celebration service.

Ves Sheely (NEDA District Superintendent from 1999-2016), Jim McClymonds (Hope International Church Chairman), and Alex McDonough (Hope International Associate Pastor) pray for Paul and Nancy Reid.

Free Webinar!

Faith & Work 3.0 - A Continuing Conversation
 

Think of your average church attender.  If you had to guess how many hours of that person's life would be spent "in church" between the age of 25 until 65, what would you say?  Now guess how many hours during that time that person will spend at work.

Want to know the numbers?  2,266 hours in church.  96,000 hours at work.

Are the followers of Jesus being equipped for those 96,000 hours?

Over the past several years, NEDA has been on the front edge of equipping women and men to integrate Faith & Work and we want to continue this vital conversation.  

Whether you've been a part of the ongoing NEDA conversation or are just beginning to explore the connection, join us on Saturday, May 19 from 9:00-11:00 am for a webinar discussion on this vital topic.  District Superintendent Sam Huggard and Paul Voltmer, pastor of Trinity EFC in Windsor, VT, will host this two-hour session interacting around a biblical understanding and application of our faith in the places where we spend most of our lives.

This webinar is designed for marketplace women and men as well as pastors, as we look together at integrating Faith and Work in God's economy and ways to equip the Body for effective integration.  You can join in from the comfort of your own home or come together with others from your local context in order to benefit from both a local and virtual conversation.  

The objectives for this webinar are:

1.  Deepen our biblical understanding of the integration of faith and work in God’s economy.
  
2.  Embrace the transforming impact this integration can have on pastoral practice, corporate worship, discipleship, and outreach in churches. 

3.  Work collaboratively to build plans for implementation and get free resources for the transformation of their church and community for Christ.


Saturday, May 19th, 2018. 9AM-11AM (EST) 

This is a FREE live Webinar! 

 

There's no cost for this event but for our planning purposes, registration is required.  Once you register, you will receive an email from us giving you a link and directions for accessing the webinar. You can join in from the comfort of your own home or gather together with others from your local context in order to benefit from both a local and virtual conversation. All you will need is a computer or smartphone with a web cam, microphone and a high speed internet connection. We will be hosting this webinar using the Zoom platform, an app that you can download for free prior to the event.

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Global Outreach Summit

You are invited! 

The Eastern District and ReachGlobal EFCA invite you to attend the GO Summit. It will provide the opportunity to hear from local, national, and international outreach leaders in a single-day format. 

ABOUT: The GO Summit will provide the opportunity to hear from local, national, and international outreach leaders in a single-day format. Sessions will focus on: Sharing Christ in our community and world, Multiplying transformational churches among all people, Reaching communities as they become more diverse,  Motivating congregations to evangelism and missions.

WHEN: Saturday, April 28, 2018 •  10:00 am to 4:00 pm• 

WHERE:  •Riverstone Church (An Evangelical Free Church), 725 Oxford Valley Road, Yardley, PA 19067

WHO should attend: Individuals, church staffs, boards, ministry teams, missions leadership teams.

Fee (includes lunch and refreshments): $30 pp 1-2 registrants, $25 pp 3 or more registering same time, $20 pp, $15 pp Student

Go to the Riverstone Church for complete details and info on how to register. 

 

NEDA Pastors' Prayer Retreat

Starts with lunch at 12 noon on Monday, January 8th, ending after lunch on Tuesday, January 9th.

Cost:    $85pp – Triple room; $99pp – Double room; $125pp –single room.

Includes four meals, bedding & towels, facility use. Commuter Rate: $70 for meals and facility use, no accommodations. If you would like to arrive the night before (no extra meals, no extra charge), please indicate that on your registration form.

Location: Camp Spofford, NH

 

Registration

Register and pay directly to Camp Spofford,

go to www.campspofford.org/retreats/NEDA Pastors

 

Deadline for registration: January 7th, 2018

 

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Save the date!

The NEDA Annual Conference will be held October 17th and 18th, 2017, and will take place at Westfield Evangelical Free Church, Westfield, Massachusetts. Other details will be announced in the coming months and will include information on how to register.

Ministry Opportunity: Haiti


From Pastor Arthur Demosthenes (Elim EFC, Fitchburg/Morijah EFC Waltham)

"One of my greatest desires is to take a team from NEDA to Canaan, Haiti, for a weeklong mission trip this coming Spring. The team could be made up of members from one church or be a combination of members from more than one congregation. At this time the best date seems to be Monday April 17 to Monday April 24, the week after Easter celebration. However, any participant could make a five-day instead of seven-day trip, if it is necessary. The ministry possibilities are the following:

  • Construction ministry along with a team of skilled Haitian brothers and sisters (provided we have the needed funds).
  • Vacation Bible school along with Haitian Sunday School teachers. We would bring materials down such as arts & crafts materials, books, etc.
  • Leadership Training / Study of a biblical topic or study from a book of the Bible (pastors).
  • Preaching and participating in night services (Monday-Friday) provided we have one pastor on the trip.
  • Visiting homes and prayer ministry in the community.

We welcome children, young people, and adults. The team may be as small as five or as large as fifteen. Beside the tickets, the cost of the mission trip will be $500.00 per person which will cover food and lodging and basic ministry and fellowship expenses and gifts. If the Lord should open the door for us to raise $5000.00 as a team, we could sponsor and participate in the construction of one additional classroom or one adjacent room to the clinic or building at least one house in the community. If anyone from your church is interested ...please send me an email or give me a call/text me at (617) 893-0563. God bless you!"   - Arthur