Church Tour: Methodist (Part 2)

As Lauran mentioned, we visited another Methodist church last Sunday. We stumbled on it really when we were taking a detour a month ago in our failed attempt at attending a Quaker meeting. We drove past and noticed on the sign that the church had a female head pastor. It is also close to U of H, so we thought there might be several college students and a large amount of diversity. We were really excited to visit there.

The church is beautiful and fairly large, but there were probably no more than 50 people at the service we attended. That could be attibuted to many factors. The pastor is only going to be there for a couple more weeks, and if college students are a major part of the church, U of H had just finished its spring semester. The people there were all very friendly, including the pastoral staff. The church was predominately African American, except for the two older white couples that sat behind us and treated everyone like family. Seeing them hug everyone during the greeting was probably one of my favorite moments. The reality is that I see God so much more clearly in unexpected loving actions than I ever do in sermons and Bible studies, and on our church tour, it is moments like this that I will remember and treasure. We set out to see God at work in a variety of ways and places. This is a wonderful example, reminding me that God transcends denominations, races, and ages.

The service was beautiful. I find myself drawn to Gospel music more and more. It is a shame that more white churches don't use it more often. Maybe they would find that not only would their congregations enjoy its beauty and power, but it might also make their churches feel more welcoming to people of other races. I think most churches don't think about race enough. It is as if we are satisfied that now that Civil Rights is over, the work has been done. When the demographics of most churches look the same as they did 50 years ago, it tells me that the work of healing racism is far from over. We have an amazing opportunity to be a part of God's redemptive plan for our world if we could join Him in this.

The other amazing part of God's redemptive work that I saw came when the pastor preached her sermon. For years, I believed that it was wrong for women to preach, that it was not Biblical. I somehow ignored or explained away all the ample Biblical evidence that suggests otherwise. I am glad that God has changed my mind about the role of women in church. This woman's sermon reaffirmed for me the importance of eliminating sexism in churches. For centuries, we have denied some women the opportunity to share their gifts. Those that are gifted preachers and teachers have often been forbidden to share those gifts or only been allowed to share them with other women. Because of this misogynistic tradition, both men and women have been hurt. Now we have the opportunity once again to be a part of God's redemptive work in healing sexism.

The sermon that day was moving, and it could not have been more timely for us. It was one of those sermons when I knew God was speaking directly to me and Lauran. It was so apparent that the Holy Spirit had gifted this woman and was speaking to us through her. Her message was encouraging to us in just the way we needed. It moved Lauran to tears, and I can safely say that I have not seen many sermons do that.

This was one of the most important parts of our church tour because it reminded me of how important it is for me, as a white male, to fight both sexism and racism. My white male privilege does not shield me from the consequences of racism and sexism. Living in our safe, comfortable church bubbles does us much more damage than we realize. It has suffocated me, and I am ready for a breath of fresh air. I thank God for this glimpse of life outside the bubble.

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