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To my Black Brothers and Sisters in Christ
Three days ago, Roger Lamb posted a personal apology on Facebook about our failures as a church family (the ICOC) to address racism. I commended him for the post and posted it to my FB friends. He had called me a few days prior and shared with me his stricken conscience and deep convictions that he needed as an older, recognized leader in our churches to apologize publicly. As we talked, I was cut to the heart and tears began to fill my eyes. I knew immediately that I needed to also apologize personally and publicly.
When I shared that conviction with one of my closest white friends, he noted what I had done to confront racism in our fellowship through my teaching and writing (in my blog especially) and asked why I felt the need to apologize. Here is my answer to that question – to be followed by my apology.
Yes, in the past four years I have been teaching and writing about racial issues a lot. I started my blog ( I have served on our Diversity Group (the SCUAD – Social Cultural Unity and Diversity Team) for several years until just recently. But I was not the one who initiated this new focus in my life and ministry.
After a Black man killed five white policemen in Dallas, which happened four year ago tomorrow (July 7, 2016), Mark Mancini asked me to come to the Region of the DFW church that he and Connie lead and speak specifically about racial issues from a biblical perspective. After that, many doors started opening and my already present interests in the area quickly became a passion. But whatever else may be said, I cannot take credit for anything I have done in this area. It was God through Mark that got it started and God through many others to keep me going.
Here is why my heart was pierced in my talk with Roger. I didn’t think first about what good I may have done; I thought about the good I could and should have done but didn’t. I thought about my Black friends through the decades with whom I had shared so much of life – ones who had lived with us; ones with whom I had hung out with in virtually every way you can hang out (sports of all types, trips together, countless meals in each other’s homes, etc.) And I thought of all the opportunities I had let pass to ask those probing questions about what their life was really like as a black person, from birth to the present. Tears fill my eyes as I write this.
I am deeply grieved for my failures to be a better friend to my spiritual family of color. I am so sorry for not trying to get into your world with you as best I could to help you carry your burdens of living in a country characterized by systemic racism. I cared, but not nearly enough. I should have done more and done it much sooner. Please forgive me.
Many have thanked me for the work I have done in the past four years, and I have appreciated the encouragement. However, please do not respond to this apology with anything that would lessen the guilt I feel which has moved me to write this or try to console me. I don’t need consolation. I need, and ask for, your forgiveness, especially from those many close Black friends who have loved me through the years.
I thank God for using Mark to help get me into a spiritual battle that I wasn’t looking for. I thank God for using Roger to help me become aware of my own sins and to repent and apologize. As God would have it, in my very last post on my blogsite, I wrote this: “I think of this passage in Proverbs 18:9: ‘One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.’ In other words, an idle person who fails to build is no better than the one who actively destroys what is already built.” When I wrote that, I was pointing fingers at others. Now God has led me to look in the mirror at myself and see my own failures – failures to do more, sooner. I am deeply sorry. Please forgive me.