Still Much Work to Do
Many thanks to Farris Blount for pointing out so well the tension between “other worldly versus this worldly” concerns, as well as “communal and privatistic” approaches. I feel that tension, too, in the Wesleyan tradition.
I also appreciate the attention given, through the example of Methodism, to the difference social location makes for African-Americans. Blount’s properly cautious phrasing “yet those same individuals might contend” that social location for Black people in America creates different alternatives for following Jesus is supported in a book titled I’m Black. I’m Christian. I’m Methodist (edited by Rudy Rasmus). This book includes autobiographical accounts of what it is like for ten individual human beings to navigate the challenges African-Americans face following Jesus as Methodists. Those challenges include learning how to express lament, overcoming ongoing segregation, finding role models, thinking about complex, multilayered problems (such as also being a woman or LGBTQ), finding a voice to express the distinctive Black experience, and calling for systemic change in a tradition that began among White Christians in England and became a church in a country that practiced enslavement.
As Blount points out, Black churches are diverse and are found among different denominational traditions. I wonder how the challenges for Black churches expressed within Methodism may appear in other denominations. The kind of conversation this group is involved in cannot be complete unless we make room for all followers of Jesus to follow in their authentic experience. There is much to be learned and still much to be discussed.
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