I shared the following in our two worship gatherings today:
It’s been just a couple of weeks since the shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota. And then we saw a group of police offers killed a few days later in Dallas (I found out right before the first gathering about the police shootings in Louisiana). It’s easy, isn’t it, to get separated from those incidents by some time and then forget? But time doesn’t really heal wounds, does it? We can’t forget what happened. And we must do something to change things.
Well, what’s Karis going to do? We’re going to keep praying for, and running after, racial and ethnic diversity in our church. And we’re not just going to sit here and wait for it. We’ll be out in the neighborhood that surrounds us, seeking to welcome people in. Most of them won’t look like us. Come and pray with us tonight at 5 if you can. We’ll also be doing some events this year to connect with the people in the First Ward and love them well. Our youth and kids ministries are going to intentionally seek out the young people surrounding this building.
We’ll also keep pursuing partnerships with African-American pastors and churches in town like we’ve done with Bishop Lorenzo and Chosen Generation. We’re excited to see where that will take us as a church family. We’ll also continue to be involved in a larger conversation that’s taking place among the church here in Columbia. I’ve been a part of a group of pastors here talking about diversity and unity. There has already been one joint community worship service, and I’ve heard there will be more.
We’ll keep having conversations about race and the importance of ethnic diversity. We’ll talk about how such diversity shows the beauty of God. We’ll talk about how our unity shows the power of the gospel. We’ll talk about and preach boldly that each human being is made in the image of God and deserves respect and protection.
There is another component I haven’t mentioned yet: the police. Did you know one of our pastors, Rob Gaskin, is a chaplain with the Columbia Police Department? Our officers are people, too. So many of them serve so bravely and honorably. Their job is probably more difficult than it has ever been. Rob gets the privilege of getting to know them and share Christ’s love with them. He gets to provide counsel in times of struggle. Added to all of that, Rob’s a part of the negotiations team. He’s uniquely trained to help deescalate conflict and keep people alive. He can’t be in every police car, but his training, and at times, his presence, could even keep people here from getting shot (Rob was actually at a standoff on Friday night in north Columbia until 2 a.m.!) We as elders have encouraged Rob to use a significant part of his Karis work hours to serve in this way. I’m excited that we’re involved on both sides of this current cultural struggle. And we don’t want them to remain “sides” any longer. We want to do anything we can to change that.
Karis, we as elders see ourselves standing at a key point in American history. We’ve found ourselves as Missourians right in the center of it all. We won’t be silent. And we ask for your help and prayers as we fight for the dignity and safety of all people made in God’s image. That’s while we also seek to love and honor those put in place by God to make sure those freedoms are protected. Will you pray with us? Will you seek change with us?