Sunday, August 2, 2015

white mama at the black church...

You've seen our "white mama at the black salon" series.  Now it's time for a second round of new cultural experiences for me: the white mama at the black church.

Marc and I have wracked our brains about how we could add a black church into our lives and schedule.  We have a deep desire to be a part of a diverse group of believers, not just for our son's sake, but for our own benefit as well.  But since we both have jobs in ministry that tie us to a particular church that is quite lacking in the area of diversity, we haven't come up with any real solutions at this point.

Until vacation!

We're on a much-needed (study) break in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this week before the semester begins, and it dawned on us that this might be one of our only Sunday mornings to visit a black church.

Now, thankfully we knew a couple things to expect: 1) you dress up for black church  and 2) black church goes long.
My handsome guys!
SO, we made sure to eat a hefty snack before we left for church, but unfortunately, we didn't pack anything dressy enough to match the amazing outfits we saw there, (oh, the hats!!) but it's all we had. 

Besides, we figured we'd be the family standing out anyways...

So in we walk to this beautiful, historic AME church.  And we're met with warm welcomes and smiles.  We sit in the back to take it all in.

The service itself was familiar, and not familiar.  

It was a beautiful mixture of that which I knew... 
the Call to Worship, the Apostles' Creed, the rich old hymns, 
and that which I didn't... 
a call-and-response "liturgy" and a Gospel-worship style with swaying and clapping (ahhh, loved it!).

Would you believe the "greet your neighbor" time (the time that usually makes those in my culture roll their eyes and attempt to bear the agony...) was actually the HIGHLIGHT of the service for us.  Jameson absolutely LOVED shaking everyone's hands.  I can't tell you how "full" I felt as each person came to give us a warm, welcoming handshake.  It didn't matter that it was our first time there.  We were there, and we were treated like family.  I was literally kissed on the cheek by a complete stranger this morning, people.  

Here we were, the only white people in a South Carolina AME church, just a few hours away from another AME church that just weeks ago, suffered an unspeakable tragedy at the hands of a young white man they thought they could welcome and trust.  I'm not sure whether that scene entered any of their minds as Marc and I entered the building, but I couldn't help but be keenly aware of my whiteness, and how in that context, it could've been perceived as a potential threat through the historical lenses of my dear brothers and sisters.  

Speaking of historical, Marc and I couldn't help but think how just decades ago, blacks were barred from taking communion in church.  Marc's eyes brimmed with tears as he knelt down and received the Lord's Supper from a black minister of the Gospel for the first time.

We were right- it was long. (2 1/2 hours!  Caroline was STARVING.) But it was great.  Refreshed to see people from other tribes and tongues laying their praises at the feet of Jesus.  What a broader perspective of the kingdom of heaven.

enough time to nap during that service! 
"May God bless the readers of His Word, the hearers of His Word, and the doers of His Word," the Scripture reader concluded.  Loved that.  

Caroline was getting into the music with me.  When we asked her in the car what she thought of the church, she said, "Well, we were the only three white people there!"  That gave us a great opportunity to talk about how Jameson must feel alot of the time in our family and how it was good for us to be the minority for once.  

It was good.  Maybe a bit out of my comfort zone, but good.  

Like, soul-satisfying good.

1 comment:

  1. When I was in middle/high school my childhood 'white' church and the 'black' church a few miles down the road worshiped together at least once a year. It was fun. They still do it to this day and I think they did it last Sunday. I remember the music fondly because one of my classmates played the piano WAY different than compared to my Mama. (I actually heard him play recently at the hospital. He was visiting a family member in the evening and he was playing the lobby's piano at night. No one gave him permission - and no one told him to stop!) Currently my 'white' church has a 'black' minister now. They adore him. So, invite a 'black' church to your 'white' church one Sunday. It's a good thing. You may even start a tradition.