Due to the heightened racial tension in the US a question has come up “Is GCI considering additional plans/actions for multi-racial outreach and inclusion?” It is without a doubt a matter that deserves proper attention, and in fact, it is not an issue that has been ignored. Please allow me to explain.
Historically, the roots of Grace Communion International come from the Worldwide Church of God. Racial bias in the WCG was primarily based on Herbert Armstrong’s misguided doctrine of British-Israelism that kept non-Israelite peoples (Gentiles—which included all people of color) as second class and therefore inferior.
This heretical and false teaching created division and mistreatment of people of color. Noticeable limitations were placed on Black members and leaders and many suffered from racial slurs and prejudice that were simply wrong.
Under the leadership of Joseph Tkach Sr. and his son Joseph Tkach Jr. there was major doctrinal reform leading to a greater understanding of the New Testament teaching that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, but we are all one in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28).
The Tkaches commissioned and sanctioned Pastor Curtis May and Greg Albrecht to oversee the Office of Reconciliation Ministries. These men, along with other key pastors, worked tirelessly traveling the country and holding weekend conferences that did much good in acknowledging past wrongs and providing healing for a more positive future.
More recently Regional Director Jeff Broadnax, along with several pastors, interns and members, helped organize gatherings called “Together in Christ.” The idea was birthed out of conversations with our community of GCI interns. Though space for participants was somewhat limited, these weekends allowed for honest discussion and were conducted from the platform that Jesus is the unifying factor for all broken relationships and lives. True human togetherness and unity can be found only in surrendered relationship to Jesus.
“Together in Christ” was intentionally hosted by local GCI churches because this is the space where we should be able to come together with our hurts and differences and find forgiveness and restoration in the presence and power of Jesus. It is my hope that our GCI churches are maturing in Christ and are healthy enough to weather any social challenges or obstacles that come our way, and we can continue to hold “Together in Christ” events to address difficult social matters.
If you are a person of color and never had the opportunity to participate in any of these GCI sponsored events, my prayer is you will have an opportunity in the future. For those of you who have never heard a public apology for any racial slurs or mistreatments you have suffered within our church, let me say on behalf of our denomination: Please accept our heartfelt apology for the individual and systemic discriminatory and racist actions, teachings and culture we openly or ignorantly embraced and allowed. Please forgive us. May we never repeat the sins of the past, and through the power of the Spirit may we value all people as beloved children of God treating everybody with genuine love and respect.”
Together in Christ we can and will go forward!
P.S. If you have not yet read the cover letter for the July Equipper, I encourage you to do so. My long-time friend and fellow pastor, Charles Taylor does a marvelous job in his article “Know Justice, Know Peace – Know Jesus, Know Peace.”