Will #nextchurch2015 Move The Church Toward Racial Justice?

NEXT Church is next week!

I’ve enjoyed blogging about past NEXT Church gatherings, for example here, here, and here.

This week I’m sharing four questions I’m bringing with me to my favorite annual gathering of Presbyterians [full disclosure: I helped plan this one].

So, my first question:

The fouled up racial reality of the American context is more clearly in focus today than it has been for years, at least as measured by the mainstream media discourse. Michael Brown and Eric Garner are household names, and #blacklivesmatter is necessary to state now. How will the urgency of racial justice inform what happens next week?

A colleague shared this in an email yesterday:

I still have my same concerns about the church in general and about NEXT in particular. The events of the past six months, especially events around Ferguson, have even heightened my sense of concern for organizations that are predominantly led and and membered by privileged white people, including organizations like the PC(USA) and NEXT Church. I’ll be interested to see if your conference makes any movement this year compared to the last several years I’ve attended.

One way to measure movement toward racial justice in a gathering like this is by looking at who’s up front. NEXT has always work hard at diverse racial representation among its leadership, even if the PC(USA) is a mostly white palette from which to draw.

Among others, this year’s gathering will hear from Chineta Goodjoin, the Organizing Pastor of a new African-American church in Orange County, as well as Tiffany Jana, who heads a consulting firm with her husband Matt that helps organizations harness the power of diversity (watch her TED Talk below).

This year’s theme, “Beyond: Our Walls, Our Fears, Ourselves” lends itself well to addressing the church with urgency to explicitly address its witness to a world in which police officers openly send racist emails, fraternity brothers at a prominent university chant “hang ’em from a tree” with glee, and young black men are disproportionately more likely to be killed by police.

It’s on us to push things in the direction of justice and reconciliation. I expect next week’s gathering to offer concrete ways to do that.

8 thoughts on “Will #nextchurch2015 Move The Church Toward Racial Justice?

  1. Thank you for your questions and this post. I’m really looking forward to next week! Also if you’re looking for diverse speakers for future, check out Broderick Greer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/broderick-greer/. Latest post is from 2014 but he stays current on Twitter, has a electronic newsletter. He’s been a powerful and prophetic voice on twitter regarding racism and black lives matter. Andrew Fosters Conners is familiar with him, they’ve had some good exchanges.

  2. I think it’s good and important to strive for fairness and equality.And it seems good to bring people together to encourage one another to that end.


    Jesus said it, Paul explicated:
    “Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:”

    If we (pre) judge other people (and you gave examples of horrible racism: police, college students, etc), and then to try to correct that judgement by JUDGING ourselves (Oh, we are not up to the mark in the church, we are all wrong not diverse enough!) and we keep judging and judging is running the same rat race.

    It seems to me, we have to crack open our hearts to love. Love the people being persecuted, and love the persecutors. Isn’t that the heart and mind of God?

    How can we love more, and be known for our love? Let’s look at the face of Jesus, not the storm.

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