Church and Race Introduction

By Charles Kolstad

Date Posted Tuesday, September 15, 2020


Since the death of George Floyd, in basically my own backyard, my small group has felt moved by God to address the issues around race that have been too long ignored. Five months later we’re still figuring out exactly how we will do this. Me especially.
I’ve grown up in Minnesota, Minneapolis is just as much home for me as Crystal or Brooklyn Park. I’m mixed, half black and half white. I’ve had run-ins with the MPD and I don’t consider this to be something strange. I’ve grown up in a mostly urban environment, with mostly urban friends. Before the death of George Floyd, I thought the heavy handedness of the MPD was common knowledge. If that previous assumption was not true, then I definitely thought the targeting of black and brown people by police in America was common knowledge.
I attended middle school in Plymouth (I got some stories there) and I remember a police officer being invited to our class to speak. Most of what was said was deemed irrelevant by my immature ears but I remember what the officer said regarding profiling. “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, then it’s a duck.” I knew even then who the officer was talking about - me and my friends.
As grieved as I’ve been by the murders of black and brown people over the past decade, I’m glad that smartphones are picking up where Christians are falling short and are shining a light on this dark place. In this age of conviction by live stream, I’ve found that as much as white Christians have overlooked the burden carried by people of color, I have overlooked just how separated white Christians are from this issue. I don’t want to make excuses, it is written in Hosea 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Neither do I want to forget brothers and sisters that love Christ who maybe just now are becoming alert to this problem, regardless of how slowly this awareness has come.
So, my small group has formed this startup project #HeartsBrokenEyesOpen and have begun engaging our mostly white church on this topic. We’ve been encouraged, but also challenged. I have felt the need to respond well to these challenges. Maybe this is because of my own ego but also maybe because I am the only male in our group that can identify as African American. The city where our church is located is Crystal, my wife and I grew up here. One evening while attending a bible study my wife and I noticed our church’s youth group consisting of middle school and high school aged kids. I asked my wife, “You and I grew up here, does the group we see here reflect the community we know this to be?” She responded no. I tell this story because I also feel a burden to represent this demographic of Crystal in the church.
With these burdens on my heart, I will be using this platform to fully show my heart. I ask for correction where correction is needed. I ask that you show me what I miss and direct me to areas my human eyes will not. I will do this by drafting blog responses here to Youtube videos that appear in the search result when I enter the words “church” and “race”. Do not be afraid to consider, reflect, pray, and respond. May iron sharpen iron, and may this bring glory to God.

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