The Segregated Church

Growing up in the deep South is no easy feat. I was born and raised in Salisbury, North Carolina; a small rural town that’s had its fair share of challenges. Salisbury has seen battles with racism, injustice, and economic disparities. Until the 1980’s, the KKK still held marches in the center of the square of downtown Salisbury. The city was the home of a confederate statue known as “Fame”. For decades, this statue stood front and center in our city until July of this year. Nevertheless, most people in this city would consider themselves devout believers and good church going people. These were people who loved their families and were hard workers. 

Salisbury typically rallied around sporting events where you could see every ethnicity cheering, tailgating, and celebrating with extreme passion and enthusiasm. Then, there are Sundays! For my family, Sundays were centered around three things: church, dinner, and some sporting event on T.V. We would typically all gather at my grandmother’s house to eat dinner right after church.

I really didn’t notice until I was much older that I’d rarely ever seen a white person attend our church services. When I was in the sixth grade, a childhood friend of mine, Shane Hess, invited me to a predominately white church. Prior to that, I’d never even experienced a white preacher. 

It was typical that Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics would attend their own respective churches. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr once stated, “the most segregated hour in America is 11 a.m. on Sundays”. Why is that? How is that we can rally around sporting events, concerts, and even Starbucks, but not the church? The one thing that unifies us is the gospel. Yet, the church is the most segregated place in our nation. Is it possible to be madly in love with God, but have prejudices in our hearts? Yes. No one is exempt from this reality. The true question is, how do we fix a broken and divided world if the church is not leading by example? We cannot! It takes effort! Ephesians 4:3-6 says,

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope you were called; on God, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”.

I believe when God looks at us, He doesn’t just see our differences in ethnicities. Though we all see differences in skin color, it should not separate us from other people who don’t look like us.  I believe when God sees us, He sees one race; the Human Race. I think we are going to be greatly surprised when Peter opens those illustrious golden gates and we don’t see a black church or a white church, but we see one unified bride worshiping Christ. The multi-ethnic bride of Christ with each one of us stained with the precious blood of Jesus. 

How do we break the spirit of segregation in our pews and soft cushioned seats? With love, the bond of peace, and desiring to have relationships with individuals who don’t look and speak the same as we do. We have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To do this, it takes effort. I believe we can do it; one step at a time. I want to encourage you to visit a church that’s of a different ethnicity or denomination than yours. See what values are the same or different. 

Love is the only tool that has to power to desegregate our world and our churches today! Each ethnicity has their own unique styles and ways of expressing of love and devotion to Christ. Here is the thing, we all love Christ. It only make sense to worship Him together!

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