Books The Arts

United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 3 – Longing for Diversity)

Jasmine Holmes

I remember the first time my mom ever had my brother and I sit down and watch Eyes On The Prize during black history month.

If I’m being honest, I felt a little corny piled onto her bed watching the old documentary. I knew about the Civil Rights movement, knew about my history. I didn’t need to be lectured.

And then the story of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old who was brutally murdered after flirting with a white woman, flooded the television screen.

We were the same age, Emmett Till and I, and yet there I sat safe at home crying over his death, and here I sit, ten years later, afforded a safety he never had.

Trillia speaks of a similar experience in Chapter 3 of United:

“I was angry. I was angry that America had allowed slavery to be a catalyst for such evil and hate. I was angry that anyone would feel justified in doing something so horrific to such a young boy… and even now, as I think about it, my eyes begin to water with tears and my heart grows heavy.”

The quest for diversity in our local congregations and in our relationships often begins with a heavy heart. As we look at the history that has so often marred and divided, we are justifiably heartbroken over the pains of the past.

But we don’t stay there.

The blood of Christ calls us from complacent sorrow or destructive anger to vibrant unity. This unity is built on the foundation of who we are as a family of faith and nurtured by a willingness to be vulnerable about our past struggles and future hopes in this area.

This unity begins, foremost, with prayer. And as we pray, as the Lord opens up opportunities for us to reach outside of our comfort zones, we make headway.

  1. How important do you think it is to discuss America’s past as we seek reconciliation and diversity?
  2. Are these conversations that you find yourself dreading our looking forward to?
  3. How have your experiences shaped your desire for diversity within the local church?

1 Comment

  1. george canady

    Question 1: I personally I think this discussion is important. Perhaps this subject is not seen as important to much of the “old guard” because there simply were not the numbers of blacks in “their space” that there are now. they didn’t have to deal with it. And for the most part, they seem to be hoping that reconciliation won’t happen for one more generation at least, so they won’t have to deal with the problems that come with it. I see a discomfort on both sides and I wouldn’t expect a great lasting change unless a number of dedicated godly white people decide to give their life to the work of repentance and reconciliation for this awful historic injustice the white church has inflicted on its black brothers and sisters and their children.
    Question 2: I dread having conversations with leaders of a mostly white church with an all white elder board. They seem extremely defensive about their own white historic pattern of sin with regard to James Chapter 2 and I am one who struggles with anger and tongue control. I have to avoid these men now. I do enjoy conversations about reconciliation with my wife now, as she has taken a great active interest in it lately.
    Question 2: My growing knowledge of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; through the Bible, lets me know that there will always be the blindness that pride brings. I have been blind in pride to think so much of myself as to persuade with angry words or truth spoken without love . I can not follow or submit to other Christians in this sin anymore, nor can I be angry with them anymore. My anger has only hurt those who I wish to influence. I have been going and doing now. Pray for me as I go please. I believe God has prepared me through adversity to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to share the hope and joy of knowing Jesus as Lord AND Savior, far out of my comfort zone. Its not what I thought. I have found great love and acceptance. I hope the Lord is pleased with me and am able to influence in Jesus name.

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