Staff Recommendations from MLK50

As we lamented and remembered the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination here in Memphis a few weeks ago, our staff also had the opportunity to attend a conference hosted by The Gospel Coalition entitled, "MLK50: Gospel Reflections From the Mountaintop". This conference primarily focused on how the church (specifically white evangelicals) has approached the topics of race & justice over the past 50 years and how things must radically change if we're to see true and lasting change in the next 50 years. Every session from the two-day conference was rich with information and exhortation but our staff have highlighted just a few below that would be well worth your time to hear.


Philip: I'm not sure I can choose a favorite! Though, Charlie Dates was so strong. He articulated so clearly from both a biblical and a cultural perspective the challenges experienced by African Americans in our country and ways that the (mostly white) Evangelical Church in America has failed to speak up and fight for justice for our black brothers and sisters. He stressed that right orthoDOXY should lead to right orthoPRAXY. If our theology does not lead to action, then there's a disconnect. He also stressed how just because many aspects of racism in America have been prevented by law (de jure), that is not always the case in practice (de facto). Overall, I am so thankful that this conference gave a platform to so many strong voices of color. It was very timely, very challenging, and gave me a lot of hope. [LISTEN TO CHARLIE DATES HERE]


Marlon: The reason I like Charlie Date's message so much is because it seemed to validate or add credibility to things that I've said for 45 years as I've struggled with injustices and tried to stand up for myself and other friends who fall into the African American or poor/white/drug addicted classification. When I've had the privilege to stand on platforms, receive trust and favor, material gifts, recommendations & referrals, I struggle to enjoy and receive those benefits while knowing that my friends with the same experience, abilities, education & aspirations are denied the privilege of such benefit.  Often times when I've stood on that platform, I've come across as an angry black man seeking entitlement.  For Charlie Dates to say, "we have, as a race, for a long time, expected you, slave master/white pastor, to scream about the injustices we face and to eradicate the abuse we've experienced", has been my thoughts for 45 years. I was overjoyed to hear someone with that platform, at that event, saying the same thing. [LISTEN TO CHARLIE DATES HERE]


Sidney: I was really moved by Jackie Hill Perry's talk on Equipping the Next Generation to Embrace Gospel Diversity. Our older generations are always teaching, whether they know they are or not. The younger generations are learning from us and it is our job to be a good example. They hear who we pray for, who we are sitting under and learning from, and what we choose to speak out against. Our indifference to Gospel diversity will look to them as normal. It is our job to set our eyes on the God of heaven instead of the generation before us, so that we teach the next generation true Gospel diversity. [LISTEN TO JACKIE HILL PERRY HERE]


Jake: I really enjoyed listening to Charlie Dates. He was so compelling while still communicating difficult truths. His voice, along with many others at the conference helped me realize my need for hearing a diverse group of voices who speak truth. I looked up his church’s podcast and have started listening to some of his sermons! [LISTEN TO CHARLIE DATES HERE]


Emily: We were blessed to sit under many incredible sessions which spoke directly to deep-seeded issues of racial divide in the church and then on the tail of those thoughts, Trip Lee cautioned us against band-wagon Christianity. He reminded us that within the evangelical movement, it's quite easy for important things/people to become temporarily popular- a justice campaign, christian hip-hop, a certain pastor, various convictions, etc. We must ask ourselves, "are we allowing ourselves to get drawn into the moment and swept along with the current or are we immersing ourselves in Scripture so that Jesus' longings for justice and mercy become our deep and long-lasting heart cries?". [LISTEN TO TRIP LEE HERE]