Today’s entry is by guest blogger, Dr. Parnell Lovelace.
Recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, have awakened us to the fact that our culture, our nation, and our communities are in need of healing and understanding. I was moved to hear that the nine shooting victims at Mother Emanuel AME Church were diverse in age, social status, and educational level. Yet all of them were gathered that fateful evening to study God’s word and seek ways to make a difference in the lives of others. The best of humankind was represented in that fellowship hall.
With the tragic death of the “Emanuel Nine,” an opportunity comes for the local churches around the nation to focus on healing and dialogue. Though we celebrate improvements in racial reconciliation, we also see how much more is needed to build true bridges of healing. Pastors may use various means to help build these bridges in light of the anguish and pain experienced by the community of Charleston:
1. Give spiritual guidance and commentary to local media regarding recent events, sharing hope and comfort. Never use tragedy as an opportunity to advertise a particular church or ministry.
2. Encourage conversation and dialogue by inviting a pastor and spouse of a different ethnicity or culture to lunch or dinner. This may be lead to pulpit-swapping or merely to the building of a new friendship.
3. Avoid political debates that distract from deeper discussions, such as why bad things happen to good people or what God’s protection means.
4. Provide a venue for prayer and sharing. Consider a musical concert or event at which an offering can be made for the victims’ families.
5. Lead the congregation in blessing another congregation with coffee/ refreshments, flowers, and a token of care and support.
Ultimately, the power of love always overcomes the power of evil. The brokenness that is the outcome of hatred, ignorance, and apathy awaits the applying of intentional care and voice of unconditional love. The church that demonstrates active compassion towards a bewildered community is the church that reflects Jesus as healer. He cares, He is available, He understands, and He is able to heal our hearts. May we embrace healing for ourselves and our nation.
Parnell M. Lovelace, Jr., MSW, D.Min.
Lovelace Leadership Connection
Rancho Cordova, California
As the successful founding pastor of 3000 member Center of Praise Ministries, Sacramento, California, Parnell M Lovelace, Jr. serves as an apostolic strategist, merging the Church with the social constructs of urban community. He holds a MSW, University of Oklahoma; MPTH Oral Roberts University, and D.Min., Talbot School of Theology.