I’ve heard from many of you over the last few days how much you appreciated hearing from Rev. Kasey Jones, who was invited by our Baptist Identity Committee to help us celebrate Baptist Heritage Sunday, a more focused approach to our old “Founders’ Day,” aimed at helping us honor and interpret our tradition. In recent years, we’ve taken this Sunday as an opportunity to broaden our vision and understanding of what at times can feel like a small Baptist world.
Kasey is the Associate Coordinator for Outreach and Growth at CBF and focused her time with us on CBF’s work in the area of racial justice.
During the Sunday school hour, Kasey, who is a Black woman, spoke to us about CBF’s journey toward centering racial justice as a priority in recent years, primarily through establishing the Dr. Emmanuel McCall Initiative for Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative, which is one of our new “identity partners,” supported in our annual budget.
Kasey lifted up the ways the summer of 2020 changed the conversation about racial justice not only in CBF, but in the nation as a whole as we grappled with the murder of George Floyd and other incedents of racial violence, as well as the protests and unrest that followed.
CBF churches have said overwhelmingly that we want to be more diverse—both as congregations and a fellowship—but we know that diversity doesn’t just happen. It takes intentionality and a conscious reckoning with the ways “welcome” must be practiced as much as it is said.
In her sermon she described for us with an incredible mix of honesty, grace, and solidarity, the uncomfortable reality that white churches and white christians have an unfortunate, but well-earned, reputation within the Black Church. Black churches have witnessed and experienced the ways in which white Christianity has upheld a racially discriminatory and even violent status quo.
While this is hard to hear, she encouraged us to stay the course, to continue to learn and educate ourselves in our complicated history, and most of all continue doing the work, recognizing that change happens slowly.
But it was something she said to the small group who took her out to lunch following worship that has kept me thinking over the past week. We were talking about the struggle of keeping these important but uncomfortable, and, it must be said, politically charged, conversations going for an extended period of time.
She said to think of racial justice work as a matter of discipleship, in the same way we would, say, stewardship.
Of course, we all (and maybe especially preachers!) would like to just talk about stewardship once and then be done with it—for us all to hear and understand and immediately adjust our behaviors and lives to be in perfect harmony with our values and convictions.
But we know this is not how discipleship works. Discipleship is a process, a journey, that we commit our lives to. Which means one of the greatest spiritual disciplines we can develop is endurance. The strength to keep going, to keep trying, to keep taking small steps forward, for the long haul.
To not get discouraged when we fall short, and to extend all necessary grace to each other, recognizing that the journey is sweeter and richer and more heaven-like when we make it together.
I’m grateful to Rev. Jones for reminding us that when we speak of racial justice we are speaking of the gospel, and that true discipleship is long, and at times hard, but—we confess—worth the struggle.
I’m also grateful that she was here to walk a few steps of the journey with us.