In an attempt to promote racial harmony and unity my brother Kyle and I got this crazy idea to merge our churches. You see, I come from a Baptist faith tradition and Kyle is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church. There are a lot of differences between the two faith traditions, but to succeed we were willing to work through them together. Not to mention his church was predominately White and mine a Black church.
BY BERNARD EMERSON
It was a work in progress that took two years to build. We carefully walked through a process where we did the hard work of answering tough questions. We went through a book called Multiethnic Conversations, an eight-week devotional with journal questions. On Sundays, we wouldn’t preach but we would discuss the questions we answered in our journals. We created space for our two communities to get involved in each other’s lives. We worshipped every eight weeks and every major holiday together. Kyle and I committed to being better brothers to each other than we were pastors working together. That meant our brotherhood had to trump my Blackness. I’m not saying our individual cultures weren’t important, they just couldn’t be more important than our brotherhood.
Earlier this month we launched Tapestry Church (SEE VIDEO BELOW). It was a beautiful display of God’s Church and his Kingdom. Could you imagine people from many cultures, woven into the fabric of Oakland to display the beauty of God’s story? There were Asian, Latino, Blacks and Whites sitting together, singing together and worshipping God together. You see, at World Impact we are challenged to think the unthinkable, imagine the unimaginable, to do what normally has not been done. That is where the courage came from to be the church. To pursue reconciliation, racial harmony and justice. That crazy idea Kyle and I came up with: “What would it look like if we were to merge our two churches?” A just community and the Church. That’s what it would look like.
This post was originally published at World Impact, headquartered in Los Angeles, here.
PHOTO: Tapestry Church Oakland