I am a Caucasian man.
I am a pastor.
I love culture.
I love diversity.
I love people.
I am a father.
I am a husband.
There are many other attributes that can describe me, but I hope that racism is never one of them!
I grew up as a missionary kid.
We lived on a small Island where a little pale blonde headed kid was not the norm.
We also lived in South Africa during Apartheid, where racism was very, very real.
In my parent’s appointment in Cape Town, they served at a beautiful corps (Athlone) where I learned the intricacies of rich harmonies in worship. The sounds of singing and worshiping have always had an impact in my life because of the Athlone corps. One other thing, our corps, at this time was considered a “colored” corps. I still consider the Athlone corps members to be as close as family to me. At the same time of meeting each week at the Athlone corps, my sister and I attended an all white school. Remember, this was Apartheid South Africa, much of the racism still existed in government, police as well as restaurants and shopping centers. I have seen racism at its worst, even though I was only a child then.
Thankfully those days have changed…and they are still changing.
Do you know what I also remember of those years in South Africa?
I remember The Salvation Army taking a stand against racial discrimination which was contrary to the government at that time.
Did racism still exist within the ranks of soldiers and even officers?
Yes. But leadership began to slowly change that dynamic.
I am not here to debate racism today.
It is certainly deplorable in every shape or form, but I am pondering today whether or not racism still exists within The Salvation Army.
Like other organizations and churches, do we still encounter this issue?
I would be more than willing to go out on a limb today and say, yes, unfortunately racism still happens.
Here’s what I don’t want to come from such a pondering today –
I don’t want to cause more divisions among our ranks.
I don’t want to single out people and specific issue.
I don’t wish to meddle or to pry back hurt feelings from the past.
what I do wish to ponder today is how can we progress forward as an Army?
How can we heal old wounds?
How do we respond to ignorance and racial divides within ourselves?
Questions to ponder and think about:
Are appointments still made today because of ethnic backgrounds and the color of skin?
Is this considered “racism” or just attempts to meet certain ethnic groups?
Do we or others in our corps still struggle with people of a different racial groups joining our fellowship?
How do you address specific people when ignorant and/or racial comments are made?
There are still some small town corps as well as large city corps that still struggle with ignorance and racism.
It still exists.
Can we love without divisions of ethnicity?
Do we have the capacity to be color blind, or better yet to celebrate how greatly diverse this Army truly is? God loves us beyond the tone of our skin.
Christ died for every racial group in our world.
Jesus broke all social norms and spent time with people from other cultures despite the racial and cultural tensions in His day.
Will we ever get to this point as an Army?
Yes, great strides have already been made.
Godly people within our ranks have already been raised up and have paved the way.
What we do NOW as an Army matters!
There ought not be divisions among racial groups and ethnic groups in our corps and in our territories.
If we wish to reflect a Christ without barriers such as these, then we must end racism of every kind.
But it must first begin in our hearts, in our homes, and then in our corps families.
Something more for our Army world to ponder today.
To God be the glory!