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Racial Unity

Racial unity has a vertical answer, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which compels us to a horizontal action, ultimately bringing healing and justice.

Email excerpts from Senior Pastor and Head of Staff, Rev. Dr. Drew Sams, to congregation (October 2020):

  • At Bel Air Church, we are endeavoring to be a community that follows Jesus every day, and everywhere, with everyone.
  • Following Jesus leaves ZERO room for racism, prejudice, discrimination, and anything that harms the image of God in another person.

 

  • To that end, it leaves ZERO room for us to see or treat others differently than how Jesus treats them: with dignity, respect, and sacrificial love.
  • Sin has created a very long laundry list of all the ways humans can love yourself above your neighbor rather than “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and we must avoid these things as individuals and as a community.
  • Moreover, it is not enough to simply avoid these things.
  • Jesus has called all of us to the highest calling: to proactively be ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:14–21)
  • May the power of Jesus through the Holy Spirit transform and unite us as we endeavor to grow as ministers of reconciliation every day, everywhere and with everyone.

Articulation Task Force

In November of 2020, a sub-committee of the Session (the elected and ordained leadership) of Bel Air Church was formed around the issue of racial unity. Recognizing that a diversity of perspective was hindering us from truly hearing and knowing one another well, this group committed itself to wrestling, listening, and learning from one another and from a variety of members within our church family. The seven member task force was comprised of 50% of currently-seated ruling elders and 50% of the pastoral team.

This has been and will be a work in progress. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. There is only the work of a long obedience in the same direction (as Eugene Peterson would say).

To this end, we commit ourselves to the ongoing next steps of equipping our congregation, in word and deed, to love our neighbors as ourselves in ways that reflect the heart of God for all humanity as revealed in scripture.

Some thoughts from the Articulation Task Force members:

Sermons

Resources

Friday Night Forum

An engaging interview with Bible Scholar, writer, and podcast host, Jared Byas, who helps us lay the foundation for having Christian conversations with those we disagree with.

Friday Night Forum

Panel discussion with Seminary president and Biblical scholar, Dr. Richard Mouw, on the subject: "Kingdom Connection Over Political Partisanship"

Books

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • ECPA BESTSELLER • “When it comes to the intersection of race, privilege, justice, and the church, Tasha is without question my best teacher. Be the Bridge is THE tool I wish to put in every set of hands.”—Jen Hatmaker

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB X HELLO SUNSHINE BOOK PICK • From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering Hidden Forces

Despite Jesus' prayer that all Christians "be one," divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ. We cluster in theological groups, gender groups, age groups, ethnic groups, educational and economic groups. We criticize freely those who disagree with us, don't look like us, don't act like us and don't even like what we like. Though we may think we know why this happens, Christena Cleveland says we probably don't.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race

For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • USA TODAY BESTSELLER • WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER • An acclaimed, timely narrative of how people of faith have historically--up to the present day--worked against racial justice. And a call for urgent action by all Christians today in response. The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don't know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.