Race and the church

I am part of a church that is mostly rich white people. We have some people who might be at the low end of the middle class, and we have had a few people of Asian descent, and one woman whose husband is black, but he’s a member of another congregation.

One group that I’m part of, the Ekklesia Project, is also mostly middle and upper class white people. We’ll be discussing some of the reasons when we meet this year at the gathering.

Another group that I’m a member of, though I’m not much of a contributor, is the Emmaus community, and it’s also mostly middle class white people.

And yet another group which I am involved in, which has no name other than coffeehouse theology, is middle class white men. In May we’ll be discussing issues of race as well, using this article by Dr. Gene Davenport as our starting point.

During Holy Week, our church hosts other churches for noon services. There’s a thirty minute worship service, followed by lunch. One of the CME churches in the area led the Good Friday service. Then we ate together, or at least we ate in the same room. A few of their members sat on the side of the room that was largely occupied by members of our congregation, but most from the CME church sat at two long tables. After the meal, we did more socializing, but eating was separate, and I’m not sure how intentional that was from either group. But it was noticeable.

There are members of each congregation that are old enough to remember separate fountains and movie theater entrances. The best hamburger joint in Tennessee (which happens to be here in Henderson) has a walk up window. It’s handy for ordering a quick milkshake, but I’m wondering if that was its original purpose.

I don’t know what to do about this. I have heard that there are efforts by the United Methodist church to work more closely with CME and AME churches, to help us all figure out why we’re still so divided by race and economic circumstances. Locally, I’m going to do what I can to connect Methodist congregations in the county (regardless of whether they’re United, Christian or African) so that we’ll all be aware of one another. Maybe the Holy Spirit will help us to pray together, worship together and eat together a little more often.