We believe that because of Christ’s great love for us, we have been reconciled to God the Father and entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we seek to be a Spirit-led, Christ-centered church body that is aware of and responsive to the racial injustices and systemic oppression present in our community and world. We step into this work following the example of Christ - through prayer, intentional listening and compassion, deep lamentation and love in action.
Rooted and Rejoicing in the Gospel
We believe that God the Father radically loves the world and demonstrates his just and merciful nature by the forgiveness granted to us through his Son, Jesus Christ.
As descendants of Adam and inheritors of a sinful nature, all of us are in a predisposition to receive God’s rightful anger and condemnation. Yet in a radical act of justice to address our sin, this condemnation was placed on the shoulders of Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection paid the price and reconciled us to God the Father.
Through this gift of grace and reconciliation with God, we are now free sons and daughters and have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We believe that the pursuit of racial justice and equity is an essential component of reconciliation work and an opportunity to further demonstrate the good news of the Gospel.
Justice and Equity Mattered to Jesus
They should matter to us too.
Jesus Christ came to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight for the blind, and to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18-19). Throughout Christ’s ministry, we see him acknowledge, lament and address the suffering of those around him, particularly those that have been marginalized by systems and society. As we learn in the parable about the widow and the judge in Luke 18, God hears those that cry out to Him day and night and says that he will see that they get justice.
As followers of Christ, we too are called to hear, acknowledge, lament and address the current suffering that surrounds us. We actively pursue racial, social and restorative justice as a recognition of Christ’s power, glory and coming Kingdom.
Talk is Cheap. We Must Do The Hard Work.
We see that Jesus consistently sought out the marginalized and oppressed and often had harsh words for the oppressor.
In John 4, Jesus spoke life and redemption to a Samaritan woman as she drew water from a well. A woman who would have been seen as an outsider from the majority culture.
In Luke 10, he tells of the Good Samaritan. Again, Jesus champions the act of the “racial outsider”, while those who are religious are cast as the ones who missed the mark.
In Mark 7, we learn about how Jesus heals the daughter of a Syrophoneacian woman, an individual with non-Jewish status. In a time of great divide between Jews and Gentiles, this woman and her daughter would have been seen as less than within the majority culture.
If these examples are true (and we believe and proclaim that they are), and if we are to live our lives by Christ’s example (which we are striving to do), then in our current context and culture, we must mourn the racist treatment of our Black brothers and sisters in our nation’s history, past, present, and future.
Anti-racism work is hard and costly, but it is clear that it is what Jesus did and therefore what we are being called to do. For the Gathering Midtown this means:
As a church organization, we are committed to the following:
First, we are committed to the Great Commission: sharing the Gospel to all nations. This means:
- We bear witness to the Gospel that proclaims each of us are beloved of God;
- We proclaim that the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not and cannot include White Supremacy in any form.
- We believe that issues of racial justice are not political issues but issues that Jesus Christ confronts with His saving grace, and therefore so must we.
Second, we are committed to the Great Commandments: love God and love our neighbor. This means:
- We value the Imago Dei in all. We recognize that there has been harm done to fellow image bearers, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other non-Anglo communities. We believe that they are a sacred and integral part of Christ.
- We believe that we are our brother’s keeper. We believe in communal responsibility, communal lament, communal confession, and communal forgiveness will lead to communal restoration.
- We will disrupt the current systems by refusing to accept indifference (“It’s not my problem”), claims of innocence (“I’m not a racist”), disavowal of responsibility (“I don’t see color”), minimizing the issue (“All lives matter”), or willful helplessness (“There’s nothing I can do”)
Third, we are committed to the Great Requirement: to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. This means:
- We are committed as a staff and leadership team to prayerfully examining our biases, our church systems, our programs, our interactions with one another etc for where we ourselves have blindspots in where we may be upholding systemic racism.
- We denounce the increased militarization of our local police forces and call for accountability such as: ban chokeholds and strangle holds, implement use-of-force continuums, institute de-escalation training, establish diversity and inclusion training, and require comprehensive community reporting
- We will create systems that tangibly make reparations for the damage of over 400 years of slavery and oppression by standing in solidarity with and amplifying the voices of black and brown people who have experienced suffering, pain and violence as a result of the current systems.
It is no longer good enough to be quietly not racist. We must be vocally anti-racist. (Ibram X. Kendi) It is our commitment as a church body to engage in anti-racism with the Holy Spirit of the Pentecost as our guide, even if it is imperfect. As we draw closer to God, and learn from the anti-racist teachings of Jesus, we will draw closer to one another and see healing in our land.
Our Encouragement to All
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8
For all our church members, we are encouraging these four postures. We assume a posture of humility in our pursuit of justice, understanding that it is not we, but Christ who makes justice roll down like waters. Rooted in God’s Word, the following values guide us in our approach to learning about and seeking justice and equity.
1) Lament. Repent. Restore.
We deeply lament the injustices and inequities of our country and this world, acknowledging the past and present ways in which they manifest. We actively repent for our conscious and unconscious silence, complicity and participation in the sin-ridden systems that oppress our neighbors. We receive and enact Spirit-led forgiveness and reconciliation with one another for the sake of Christ and His Kingdom.
Guiding Scripture - 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
- “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
2) Listening and (Un)Learning.
Jesus knew that by listening he allowed for the pain and sin of God’s people to find a safe space for healing. Jesus also invited those he taught to listen and truly hear his words, which sometimes challenged people’s way of thinking and being. Taking the posture of humble students, we seek to actively listen to those in our community – particularly centering the voices of the marginalized.
Guiding Scriptures – Psalm 34:15 – 18, James 1:19
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and his ears toward their cry. The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:15-18
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19
3) Joyfully Expecting Growth.
If we seek to do justice through the lens of the gospel, our hearts will inadvertently be changed by the things we will be asked to do. The work that God leads us to is typically work that breeds deep change, fruitful conversion and the softening of stones. It is life-long, difficult and anything but perfect. We value progress over perfection in our growth, joyfully participating with the Lord in the destruction of evil and oppression.
Guiding Scriptures – 2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 16:24-25
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” Matthew 16:24-25
4) Walking in Faith AND Works.
As people of faith and works, we do not just idly wait for justice to come but actively walk alongside Christ to partake in its manifestation in our world. Christ has reconciled us to himself, which means that 1) we are free and 2) he has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). We live out our faith in action and advocacy for what is right, just and good in service of one another.
Guiding Scriptures – Jeremiah, 22:3 Galatians 5:13
“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor to him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”