I’ve been privileged to serve on the Evangelical Covenant Church‘s “Ethnic Commission” along with the author of the above book, Ed Gilbreath. Allow me just to say in passing, I was drawn to this man’s quiet, thoughtful, intellectual demeanor and presence. One night talking over brews was not enough. But the company was good.
The connection between the ECC and the above book: moving beyond mere sympathizing to actively addressing systemic prejudice in our structures of power within society.
I penned within the margins of my copy: “So we can’t just be idealists; influence must exert itself in the structures of power we find ourselves in” and this, after just reading that what MLK did in Birmingham was much more than protest, it was to strategically cripple an entire city’s economy through combination of boycott, protest, and bad press.
It is after all, “creative protest” that raises attention and brings about change.
Now that’s a word for us in the church. I grew up in a church where “change” = “time” and many criticized King for being impatient with it; pre-empting “time” with actions they perceived to be imprudent and hasty. But he was decisive when need came to it, and it landed him in a Birmingham jail, where he penned his opus addressing the church(es). Indeed; how many idealists and their ideals have been shot down on the steps of a church just because it wasn’t the right time for change?
Change; I’ve been witnessing an entire denomination try to embrace it; to dismiss the dismissal of “time” as a panacea to all problems, that the solution to our problems were concerted, unfaltering, solid steps taken today, bearing fruit tomorrow. That’s what we were discussing at the Ethnic Commission – those concerted steps. Unfaltering. Everyone was listening. Actions are being taken. I hope.
I have seen various ecclesial societies / orgs that have entirely succumbed to the ideal of time as solution to all problems. There is no repudiation of structures of power and influence; just hopes that one day things will get better.
I have seen in my own contexts, as a Korean-American, the tenacity of this ideal of “time” as solution to all problems. One day, in twenty years, this church will be yours. That will be the answer to all the ethnic / generational tensions. Sure.
I hope I can soon move towards the latter.