Dear fellow community group leaders,
As you are well aware, we are living in unprecedented times. In the last 8 months, we have walked through uncertainty, insecurities, unrest and an inability to fathom what the future holds, all during a pandemic of epic scale. As leaders in a church body, many of you have been tasked with a burden greater than what you thought you’d have to bear when agreeing to head a small group of people in seeking and seeing Jesus. In our own group we have been faced with many questions, much grief and lament, frustrations and longing for justice.
After the news of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor washed over our country, it seemed to further crack the already teetering chaos that had been lingering for years and opened up a racial awareness and tension that was lying not too low under the surface. I personally remember the crushing awakening that began in my own heart after the murders of members of a church in Charleston five years ago, so it is with those stories in my mind that I reach out to you today, because as a church we are called to respond, and as community group leaders we often find ourselves as the first point of contact for our congregation. Doubters and seekers are watching what we do, and followers want to know the best way to move forward.
You may, just like Matt and I, be wrestling with questions, whether from your own heart or those of members of your community group. We have. We have faced concerns over the Church’s response across the nation. We have been pressed as to our own hearts, and that of Vintage Church. We have grieved and mourned with our community over injustices done to our Black and brown brothers and sisters; we have listened to those who are hurting because their business, their job or their lives are at risk because of exposure as a store owner or police officer. All this has happened as leaders weigh in, stay silent or strive to bring about changes. It is weighty, frightening, and confusing at times, especially as a mostly-white community wanting to listen and bring about justice to a mourning city. We have spent time listening, watching/participating in protests and talking and we thought that you, as fellow CG leaders, might benefit from a word of encouragement and listing of a few things that we have felt useful and helpful in our own lives.
You are not alone. First and most importantly Jesus is at the very beginning, middle and end of the unrest we see across our nation. He is not surprised, and is filled with more compassion that our hearts can ever fathom. Praise the Lord for His goodness here, and for his tender mercy on our hearts. May he continue to be gracious to us and bring healing to this space.
As leaders, we are called to stand firm, to seek Jesus, and to seek justice. Racial equity can seem a daunting task when most of our church body is white. It is easy to feel stuck. But I challenge you to dig in, dig deep, both into scripture and into listening to those around us. I wanted to lay out three places that I personally have found helpful and to challenge you to check them out if you are unsure as to a place to begin.
1. Corral’s Anti-Racism Sessions and Information
We have partnered with Corral almost since it’s beginning, if not from the very start. Rob and Joy Currey love Jesus, love their community of at-risk girls and have been in this fight for a very long time. They themselves, along with their staff, have learned the meaning of White Ally-ship and I highly recommend the resources that they share. They are challenging, insightful and the result of a long struggle towards a humble and gracious approach to anti-racism in white communities. They have taken bold steps to change their organization for the better and should be looked to as a Christian example. After the murder of George Floyd they did a four part series on dismanting racism. It was informative and insightful and I’d recommend looking at their list of resources. They have done hard work and provide an excellent place to continue the task of educating yourself.
2. Be the Bridge Whiteness 101
Latasha Morrison created Be The Bridge in 2016 to encourage racial reconciliation among all ethnicities, to promote racial unity in America, and to equip others to do the same. I have been using her Whiteness 101 course to start a conversation with a few other Vintage women and it has been extremely helpful. It is specifically written for a white audience, and there are other resources on the Be The Bridge website that continue even further. I highly encourage gathering a few people to begin the conversation about whiteness, our place in history and our culture and how it’s impacted those around us.
3. Talk to an Elder of Vintage Church
We are leaders in a community of doubters, seekers, and followers, but thankfully we ourselves have leaders to look to, to reach out to, and to talk to. It is important that we understand how Vintage is moving forward in this area, especially as members of our communities have their own questions, concerns and ideas. All of our elders and staff can be looked to as resources to communicate with, but there are three lay elders who I have talked to who happily welcome your conversation and communication. They are well aware of the inner workings of Vintage and have carried the burden of leadership with humble hearts. Feel free to contact them personally or to send along community members who are looking to connect with an elder.
My deepest prayers in this season can be felt in Isaiah chapter 2. May you find strength and peace to pray it alongside me as we seek to change tools of war into tools that build up.
Please feel free to reach out to me any time, dear friend. Keep up the good fight.
Amy and Matt Crouch, CG Leaders at Vintage Church Downtown
“[The Lord] shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore.
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord.” Isaiah 2:4-5