President, Community of Christ Canada West Mission Centre
Black Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Lives of People of Colour Matter
I mentioned in last week’s “Moment” that I had attended an anti-Black racism rally in Edmonton. Many banners and signs at that rally contained the acronym “BIPOC” meaning: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour. The phrase is a recognition that our society has multiple issues to deal with. The primary focus of the demonstrations of the last few weeks have been on calling out attitudes and actions that demonstrate personal racism and systemic racism embedded in our society against persons of African heritage. Those signs and the comments of some speakers reminded us that we also need to confront racism that is particularly deeply embedded in Canadian culture concerning our persons of Indigenous identity, as well as many others more generally described as Persons of Colour. My friends, there is much work to be done!
As other tragic events have unfolded over the past couple of weeks involving the tragic and violent deaths of other Black and Indigenous persons, I have felt discouragement and profound sadness. How will we ever find our way out of this? How can we meaningfully and practically begin removing societal and structural barriers to the full and unfettered participation in our society by all persons regardless of skin colour?
Jesus told the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) to illustrate that persons outside the dominant society should be recognized and honoured. Jesus miraculously healed many people in his ministry. One account showed that he would assist even persons aligned with the occupying Roman army (healing of the Centurion’s servant, Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10; John 4:43-54). Another actually illustrated that Jesus could be confronted by a personal prejudice and respond and correct himself (healing of the daughter of the Syrophoenician [Gentile] woman, Mark 7:24-30). The scriptural record of the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-12) revealed that the Spirit of God was made available to persons from across the known world including those considered to be barbarians (Parthians) and those from the occupying nation (Romans).
In all of these accounts there is no record that the principle people involved were actually “converts” to Jesus’ teachings. But they were all intentionally included and not excluded from the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Surely, by extension, we must know that we are to extend the blessings and privileges of our society to all those who are a part of it. In today’s environment and historic moment, we are being challenged to be inclusive of those peoples upon who’s backs so much of our societal wealth and privilege has been built through the shames of slavery, colonialism, and abuses too numerous and grievous to begin listing here.
I pray God’s blessings of guidance, understanding, and peace in these challenging times.
Mission Centre President
Canada West Mission Centre
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