Last year the EFCA leadership visited The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Brian Farone who is the EFCA District Superintendent in the North Central District of Minnesota came away convinced that the topic of racism needed to be wrestled with by other EFCA pastors and leaders. The North Central District put together a trip in March of 2020 to allow for pastors to see the memorial and wrestle with the topic of racism and see how it affects their congregation. On this Martin Luther King day this blog would like to commend Brian Farone for his efforts in combating racial injustice.
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
Martin Luther King
But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.
1 John 2:11 NLT
Martin Luther King Memorial at night
Martin Luther King’s last Sunday sermon in March of 1968.
Today is Martin Luther King Day. Today is a day to reflect on the life of a complicated man who despite his flaws dedicated to his until his death in fighting racism and injustice. Earlier today I listened to Martin Luther King’s last sermon while driving in the D.C. area. If you have not listened to it I would encourage you to do so. Its in this sermon that Dr. King speaks about the most segregated hour in America – church. But on Martin Luther King Day I wanted to point out an encouraging development in the Evangelical Free Church of America.
EFCA Leadership at the National Memorial to Peace and Justice. Glen Schrieber is in the second row to the far right.
Recalling an EFCA Leadership Visit to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in March of 2019
Inside the EFCA the district leadership gets together twice a year to have meetings, discuss pressing issues and find resolution to challenges to the denomination. In 2019 the first meeting was held in Montgomery, Alabama. The purpose of the meeting while dealt with EFCA business was held in Montgomery for a purpose. EFCA SE District Superintendent Glen Schrieber spoke with EFCA President Kevin Kompelien about having a meeting and then attending The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Informally its known as the lynching memorial that looks at the history of lynching. The museum deals with injustice, slavery, and racial issues. The visit moved the EFCA President to write about it at the national blog. The visit also moved others as well. I wrote about the EFCA leadership visiting The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. You can read more in, “SE District Superintendent Glen Schrieber Invites EFCA President Kevin Kompelien and District Superintendents to Montgomery, Alabama Where they Wrestle with the Legacy of Racial Injustice.”
Brian Farone is on the far left.
EFCA North Central District Superintendent Brian Farone’s Motivation to Address Racism
Many of the EFCA leadership cares about this topic of racism and injustice. I’ve read some of Alex Mendes material and skimmed it as I studied the EFCA. Glen Schrieber in the EFCA SE also cares about this topic. But what also struck me as I study social media is the reaction by EFCA North Central District Superintendent Brian Farone. In April of 2019 Brian wrote about visiting the The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. I would encourage you to read that post by Brian Farone in, “What We Saw in Montgomery, Alabama.” Brian came away from Montgomery determined to have other EFCA pastors and church leaders to visit this memorial and wrestle with the topic of racism. In the blog post he did last year Farone talked about planning it for March 3 through 5, 2020. At the North Central District blog Brian pushed the visit among his Minnesota district. Here is how Brian wrote his post.
Last year, I joined a group of EFCA district and national leaders on trip to explore issues of race and ethnicity in Montgomery, Alabama (you can read about our trip here). Our time together made a significant impact on my heart, motivating and inspiring me to help our family of churches move forward in our ministries to all people, especially people of color.
This year, as a way for our district family to take a significant step forward in this area, we want to invite a small group of NCD pastors and church leaders to share a similar experience. We will visit Montgomery, Alabama to wrestle with issues of race and ethnicity at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum. Our time together will be facilitated by Glen Schreiber, district superintendent of EFCA Southeast and a respected “all people” leader within our EFCA family of churches. The dates for the trip are March 3-5, 2020.
For those who have doubts, or who do not know if this trip is worth it this is how Brian pitches it.
Not sure if this trip is for you? Here are a few key questions to help you decide if God might be leading you to join us.
- Do you want (need?) to grow in your understanding of our history on race and ethnicity?
- Have you recognized your need to better understand how these issues affect your congregation and community?
- Could God be leading you to help our NCD family of churches make gospel-shaped progress in this area?
- Are you looking for safe people and a safe place to see ground truth and wrestle with these issues?
An opportunity like this raises questions. Please reach out to me if you would like to discuss this trip or, more broadly, the issues it is intended to shed light upon.
On this Martin Luther King Day this Blog Would Like to Thank Brian Farone for his Efforts in Addressing Racial Injustice
As we remember Martin Luther King we also consider his efforts to combat and bring racial injustice to the forefront. I remember years ago reading King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” All thee years later through the passage of time it still speaks out. King in that letter pleaded to white pastors to not be silent. Its a message that still is important today. This blog is impressed with Brian Farone’s efforts in this area. Honestly I thought we as a nation were farther along on racial issues. The last couple of years forced this conservative to wrestle with the topic more and to realize that we have not come as far as I thought. We still have a long way to go. Racism is a difficult and sensitive issue. I am not trying to be difficult in what I will say next. Nor am I trying to stir conflict. But the concept of white privilege was foreign to me years ago. I was indifferent to the topic as recently as several years ago. However the events in our nation these past three years have awakened that issue in my own life. The key to addressing this issue is education. And that is why Brian Farone’s efforts stand out and deserve to be congratulated. The same is true with Glen Schrieber and his efforts in bringing the trip about. So Brian Farone and Glen Schrieber this blog wants to thank you for your efforts. Its the goal of this blog not just to address issues of Calvinism and sex abuse issues and other problems. But another goal of this blog is to also point out the positive efforts inside the EFCA. Organizations like the EFCA are complicated as there are pockets of good and still problems inside the organization. Perhaps both the North Central and SE Districts can make this a regular trip and ensure that all pastors and lay leadership and elders of individual churches attend. Maybe a scholarship could be set up to make that possible, and perhaps two Sundays a year in each district money can be raised for pastors and lay persons attendance. I will leave that with you. So again Brian Farone and Glen Schrieber, thank you gentleman. In this area keep up the good work.