In case you haven't heard about it, Community Presbyterian Church is taking a "field trip" of sorts this coming Sunday. After our worship service here (9:30-10:45 am) we'll be heading over to worship with the First Missionary Baptist Church (FMBC) of Moody. This is not just a random event done on a whim. Perhaps a bit of explanation and context will help folks understand why this is happening.
At last year's PCA General Assembly there was lengthy discussion about how we, the PCA, have historically done a poor job in the African-American community. In fact, Presbyterianism in the Southern USA has a mixed history with this. While there are numerous excellent examples of racial harmony, unity, and grace there are also too many examples of hatred, prejudice, and inaction. So the issue before the PCA now is how we will respond to the past and proceed into the future. This year's General Assembly meets June 21-24 in Mobile, AL and there are several overtures / proposals being submitted concerning our denomination's commitment to racial diversity and reconciliation. I thought it would be a good idea to actually hear the thoughts of an African-American Christian outside the PCA about these proposals. In God's providence I ended up sitting near Pastor Vincent Curtis of FMBC of Moody at a Moody High School basketball game. I asked Pastor Curtis if he'd be willing to grab lunch with me one day soon and he graciously accepted my invitation. During our lunch I asked him to read one of the overtures and comment on it. He thought it was a good thing and appreciated what the PCA is doing. I then told him I didn't want to be a church that simply affirms some wonderful document voted on in a denominational meeting but returns to the same old sinful patterns that have been in place for generations. Rather I wanted Community Church to actively work out a commitment to racial, social, and ethnic diversity and harmony. His response was joyful as he noted his long-time prayer that his congregation (FMBC) could develop a working relationship and partnership in the Gospel with the predominantly white congregations in Moody. At that point we began discussing, with great joy and hope, what that might look like. From that discussion we decided on a joint worship service as a starting point. And that brings us to this coming Sunday!
I do hope you'll plan on joining us this Sunday ... both for our regular worship here at Community at 9:30 and then for our joint worship with FMBC at 11:00. It's a unique and beautiful opportunity to see the Gospel in action as it breaks down racial, ethnic, and social barriers. It truly is the cross of Jesus Christ that unites us! Let's celebrate this glorious truth on Sunday.