Tuesday, January 19, 2010

February 1

February 1 marks a significant milestone for our city and our nation. On this day, 50 years ago, the Sit-In Movement began at the Woolworth store in downtown Greensboro when 4 young students from A&T University courageously and peaceably defied the cultural norms to insist on equal treatment. Though sit-ins had taken place elsewhere before this one, it was the Greensboro Sit-In that brought national attention and raised awareness to the African-American struggle for civil rights. Some call the Greensboro Woolworth building "The Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement." In the days, months, and years following this event, Immanuel Baptist Church under the pastoral guidance of Dr. Paul Early began to increasingly expand its vision for the inclusion of all peoples. By the middle-1960's, Immanuel had become "a church for all people," one of the first Baptist churches in the city to integrate. Greensboro and Immanuel should be proud of our past histories of racial progress, but we cannot rest on the events of the past. In many ways, our city and our nation remain divided along lines of skin-color. Politicians and sociologists know this, but don't know how to fix it. Laws, policies and regulations cannot transform the human heart. This is where the church of Jesus Christ comes in. We have the answer in the Gospel. The Gospel informs us that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God is making for Himself a new people which consists of those from every tribe and nation, language and people. We are brought together as brothers and sisters in God's family through faith in Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, the world does not see this answer that we have to racial division because churches remain one of the most segregated sectors of society. Our segregation is one of preference and choice. In our flesh, we enjoy the comforts of being around people who are just like us. But in so doing, we miss out on the richness of God's glory that is displayed through a unity of diverse peoples and cultures. So, we must challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zones, sacrifice our preferences for the sake of each other, and reach out to those who may have a different color of skin or speak a different heart-language, inviting them into the fellowship of God's family through the Gospel of Jesus. What the church of yesterday had failed to obey and proclaim from Scripture, God taught to the nation through the Sit-In Movement and larger Civil Rights Movement. May we as God's people not fail this generation as we deal with issues today.

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