Racism and Injustice

Thank you for connecting to this site.  As Session has reflected on how Trinity should respond to the injustices we are seeing against black Americans, we have been learning that the process to deal with this issue involves a sequence of steps that we need to take together.

Those steps are: Listen, Learn, Lament and Lead. . .together.

To help us on this journey, we want to provide you with some material that will help you “listen and learn”.  For the members of Session who have spent some time on this we want you to know that each of our lives have been deeply challenged by the material below and we are in a place of repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness.  Our prayer is that these tools would help you hear and see what black people have experienced as you engage with the Lord in your walk.

Whenever we come to a passage of Scripture, we start by understanding its context. Who wrote the book, when was it written, what were the issues that were going on, etc. That historical contextual understanding helps us not get into a wrong place when we come to verses like "Greet one another with a holy kiss." (Romans 16:16)! When we come to the issue of racism and social injustice, most of us need a "primer" in understanding racism in our country before we know how to delve into all the resources and issues that are attached to this subject. The list of resources provided below can be overwhelming and so we have a few suggestions to help you get a "primer".

To start, get a feel for black American history as told by black Americans. Of the resources below, we would recommend starting with the documentaries True Justice and 13th. As we note below, these are secular materials and some of the scenes and vocabulary is very graphic. These videos allow you to listen to black Americans and their view of what has transpired since slavery.

With that contextual orientation to the issue, many of the descriptions of other resources will make more sense and enable you to make choices that align with your interests for deeper understanding.

Some of these tools are secular. They are not intended to replace a Biblical perspective, but rather to help us see the issues. Some of the material graphically deals with very difficult issues, so make sure you are prepared and think carefully about how you might share this with young people.

Listen to These Analyses of Racism

“Holy Post – Race in America” by Phil Vischer
An 18-minute data-based YouTube video discussing the social differences between white and black Americans.  This video walks through some key events and laws that resulted in the continuation of the racial inequity.
“A Conversation about Race and Reconciliation: How can we help?”
An 8-minute video with some white pastors speaking with a black pastor about what we need to think about in preparing ourselves to help.  It helps white people get a sense for the suffering that black people are experiencing.

Listen to Black Christian Leaders

“I Can’t Breathe”,  a sermon by Charlie Dates
This sermon was delivered after the murder of George Floyd to a congregation in Chicago.  It reminds us of how we were all created by God through his breath and how unjust it is for a person to be in a place where he ‘can’t breathe’.  This sermon deals with how important it is not to be silent about the sin of racism.
“I Have Been to the Mountaintop” and “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
These are epic speeches made by Martin Luther King, Jr. as he sought to both help white people see what was happening to black people as well as seeking to lead non-violent protests.  The “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech was delivered just before he was assassinated.

Listen to Sermons on Racism & Repentance

“Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters: Racism and the Need for Repentance”
This is a message to pastors by David Platt.  This message is an honest call to white Christians to help white Christians see how important it is to confess and repent of the reality of what the white church looks like today that is so racially divided.  It is a good example of a white person confessing how much we don’t know of the black Christian’s experience and how they have been treated.
"A Culture of Repentance  - A message from Pastor Eric Mason. God calls us to be a people of prayer, desperately depending on Him to move and transform hearts and lives.

Learn More About Black American History

  • “True Justice” – an hour-long HBO documentary featuring the work by Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative. A wonderful story that tracks the journey of black Americans from slavery, to lynching, to segregation and to judicial injustice.
  • “13th” - A documentary that explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with black Americans. Caution - this documentary has graphic scenes and language taken from our history.
  • “Just Mercy” – a movie about the experience of Bryan Stevenson and one of his first cases involving Walter McMillian who was sentenced to die for the murder of an 18-year-old girl despite overwhelming evidence that he did not commit the crime. An example of what it is like to be black in America.
  • “Selma” – A movie on the non-violent march in Selma, Alabama that became a battleground in the fight for suffrage despite violent opposition. This march culminated in the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross” –  a PBS series of six episodes, each an hour long, that walks through the history of black Americans in our country and takes you to meet the people and see the locations associated with that history.

Learn to Lament

Lament Fasting Prayer
Because of the clear testimony of God’s Word, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church unambiguously declares that racism in any form is an abomination to the God who created all races and is antithetical to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Evangelical Presbyterian Church condemns racism and calls to repentance all individuals, groups, and structures that advocate it.

Read About the Current Challenges of Race Relations in Evangelical Churches

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America – Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probed the grassroots of white evangelical America. They found that despite recent efforts by the movement's leaders to address the problem of racial discrimination, evangelicals themselves seem to be preserving America's racial chasm. In fact, most white evangelicals see no systematic discrimination against blacks. But the authors contend that it is not active racism that prevents evangelicals from recognizing ongoing problems in American society. Instead, it is the evangelical movement's emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships that makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates racial inequality. Most racial problems, the subjects told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and conversion of the sinful individuals at fault.
One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love – John Perkins
The racial reconciliation of our churches and nation won't be done with big campaigns or through mass media. It will come one loving, sacrificial relationship at a time. The gospel and all that it encompasses has always traveled best relationally. We have much to learn from each other and each have unique poverties that can only be filled by one another. The way forward is to become "wounded healers" who bandage each other up as we discover what the family of God really looks like. Real relationships, sacrificial love between actual people, is the way forward. Nothing less will do.
Free at Last?: The Gospel in the African American Experience – Carl F. Ellis Jr.
The words of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech have become enshrined in US history. But after the end of King's generation of leadership, what happened to the African American struggle for freedom? Like the ancient Israelites, the African American community has survived a four-hundred-year collective trauma. What will it take for them to reach the promised land that King foresaw―to be truly free at last?

In this classic historical and cultural study, Carl Ellis offers an in-depth assessment of the state of African American freedom and dignity. Stressing how important it is for African Americans to reflect on their roots, he traces the growth of Black consciousness from the days of slavery to the 1990s, noting especially the contributions of King and Malcolm X. Ellis examines elements of Black culture and offers a distinct perspective on how God is active in culture more broadly. Free at Last? concludes with a call for new generations of "jazz theologians" and cultural prophets to revitalize the African American church and expand its cultural range. The book also includes a helpful glossary of people, events, and terms.

Ellis writes, "It is my prayer that the principles contained in this book will play a role in building bridges of understanding and facilitating reconciliation where there has been alienation." With a new preface by the author, this groundbreaking book is now available as part of the IVP Signature Collection.
Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice – Brenda Salter McNeil
We can see the injustice and inequality in our lives and in the world. We are ready to rise up. But how, exactly, do we do this? How does one reconcile? What we need is a clear sense of direction. Based on her extensive consulting experience with churches, colleges and organizations, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil has created a roadmap to show us the way. She guides us through the common topics of discussion and past the bumpy social terrain and political boundaries that will arise. In this revised and expanded edition, McNeil has updated her signature roadmap to incorporate insights from her more recent work. Roadmap to Reconciliation 2.0 includes a new preface and a new chapter on restoration, which address the high costs for people of color who work in reconciliation and their need for continual renewal. With reflection questions and exercises at the end of each chapter, this book is ideal to read together with your church or organization. If you are ready to take the next step into unity, wholeness and justice, then this is the book for you.
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration – Isabel Wilkerson
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation – Latasha Morrison
In an era where we seem to be increasingly divided along racial lines, many are hesitant to step into the gap, fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing. At times the silence, particularly within the church, seems deafening.

But change begins with an honest conversation among a group of Christians willing to give a voice to unspoken hurts, hidden fears, and mounting tensions. These ongoing dialogues have formed the foundation of a global movement called Be the Bridge—a nonprofit organization whose goal is to equip the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division.

In this perspective-shifting book, founder Latasha Morrison shows how you can participate in this incredible work and replicate it in your own community. With conviction and grace, she examines the historical complexities of racism. She expertly applies biblical principles, such as lamentation, confession, and forgiveness, to lay the framework for restoration.

Along with prayers, discussion questions, and other resources to enhance group engagement, Be the Bridge presents a compelling vision of what it means for every follower of Jesus to become a bridge builder—committed to pursuing justice and racial unity in light of the gospel.
From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race – J. Daniel Hays
What does the Bible have to say about race and racism? The theme of race runs throughout Scripture, from the first book to the last, constantly pointing to the global and multiethnic dimensions built directly into the overarching plan of God. In response to the neglect of this theme in much evangelical biblical scholarship, J. Daniel Hays offers this thorough exegetical work in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series. As well as focusing on texts which have a general bearing on race, Hays demonstrates that black Africans from Cush (Ethiopia) play an important role in both Old and New Testament history. We miss the connection of black Africans to familiar stories of Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Philip the evangelist in Samaria, and the diverse makeup of the prophets and teachers of the early church in Antioch. This careful, nuanced analysis provides a clear theological foundation for life in contemporary multiracial cultures and challenges churches to pursue racial unity in Christ, as the gospel fulfills the promise made to Abraham that “every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9) would be blessed and united as the people of God.

Hays emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in making racial reconciliation possible. Hays says this about the conversion and baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, a black African who was the first non-Jew to come to faith in Jesus Christ: “…Jesus also ties the mission of his disciples to the empowering of the Spirit, a major theme that continues throughout the book of Acts. It is important that we as Christians today do not mythologize this connection … the ethnic and cultural boundary between the Jews and the Samaritans was every bit as rigid and hostile as the current boundary between Blacks and Whites in the most racist areas of the United States. Yet by the power of the Spirit, the layman Philip, followed by the apostles Peter and John, carried the gospel successfully across this cultural and ethnic barrier.”
Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian – John Piper
Genocide. Terrorism. Hate crimes. In a world where racism is far from dead, is unity amidst diversities even remotely possible? Sharing from his own experiences growing up in the segregated South, pastor John Piper thoughtfully exposes the unremitting problem of racism. Instead of turning finally to organizations, education, famous personalities, or government programs to address racial strife, Piper reveals the definitive source of hope―teaching how the good news about Jesus Christ actively undermines the sins that feed racial strife, and leads to a many-colored and many-cultured kingdom of God. Learn to pursue ethnic harmony from a biblical perspective, and to relate to real people different from yourself, as you take part in the bloodline of Jesus that is comprised of “every tongue, tribe, and nation.”
God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story About GOD’s Delightfully Different Family – Trillia Newbell (Excellent for Kids)
God’s very good idea is to have lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other. This stunningly illustrated journey from the garden of Eden to God’s heavenly throne room shows how despite our sinfulness, everyone can be a part of God’s very good idea through the saving work of Christ.
Talking to Children About Race - Thabiti Anyabwile
A blog on how to talk to children about race.
Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together - Tony Evans
In the Word of God, we find a kingdom-based approach to matters of history, culture, the church, and social justice. In this book, you’ll get: A Biblical Look at Oneness, A Historical View of the Black Church, and A Kingdom Vision for Societal Impact.
Although oneness is hard to achieve, the Christian must never stop striving. It’s a kingdom imperative. As Tony reminds us, “Glorifying God is our ultimate goal. Oneness exists to enable us to reach our goal.”

Want to Help Us Take The Next Step?

Our Session is listening and learning and lamenting. We want our church community to join us.

As we journey together, the words below from Isaiah are important.  The prophet was speaking to the wickedness of Judah and to people who had become “deaf and blind” (see 6:10).  Here is how he wanted them to think about their walk before the Lord:

“Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom!  Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!  What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts?  Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me.  New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations – I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am very weary of bearing them.  When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression, bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”    Isaiah 1:10-17