Last summer was a bit of a game changer for me, and in some ways for City Pres. We started more intentionally talking about racial reconciliation. That came about because of the confluence of starting our church in the middle of the city, the events that had been taking place over the past year (Ferguson and Charleston were two big ones), and then some of the actions that took place at the PCA General Assembly on that topic. We preached through the book of Nehemiah and the topic kept coming up as we asked God to show us where our hearts broke and what walls we might need to work on repairing. I had many conversations, breakfasts and tears over this issue.
As I look back, God’s been changing my heart. I’d say that 90% of everyone is on board. Not everyone is 100% on board, but that’s to be expected. Most of us don’t fully understand what all of this means or where it will take us or what will have to change. However, there are some who aren’t just resistant – they are not going to have it. They are convinced that we’ve gone liberal or been swayed by the media, or have lost our theological bearings.
We won’t be swayed. We believe there is a rich, fully Reformed, deeply theological future for us as we walk together not only with Jesus but with each other – all of us together. We’re better together. We lose out and miss out when we’re not pursuing these deep friendships and worship. We’re not condemning others; we invite everyone to walk with Jesus with us in God’s story of rescue.
To that end, we hosted four black pastors, and we will again in August. We attended the MLK, Jr worship service, and we will again in January. We hired Josh and Caylee Dodson and are starting Restore OKC. We went to St Louis to a Race & Justice Conference with New City St. Louis. Our Memorial Day Picnic (Roosta Palooza) will be in partnership with Northeast Missionary Baptist Church. We’re reading books, discussing issues, repenting of sins, trusting in Jesus who is our only hope.
One (among many) of the results is also now finished. Heal Us, Emmanuel is out! Julie and I have been working on pulling together and editing 30 essays from 30 PCA pastors, elders and professors on this topic. You’ll find that they’re a mix of personal, biblical, scholarly chapters. Bobby has a chapter. We hope this might be something of value to the whole conversation, not only that’s happening at City Pres but in our denomination and in our nation as a whole.
It’s been something we’ve been working on since last August and now you can buy it on Amazon here!
Working on this book has been such a tremendous process for me. I’ve gotten to know these brothers as friends as we’ve banded together over these months. They didn’t just send in chapters for consideration and editing and publication. We’ve hashed issues out. We’ve shared blood, sweat and tears. We’ve prayed with and for each other. We’ve asked for advice and laughed many times. I know these men have helped me see and trust in Jesus more. I have a great hope for the church because of them. Thank you to those who wrote and became my friends:
Julie Serven (Editor), Sean Benesh (Cover Design), Carl Ellis Jr. (Foreword), Craig Garriott (Contributor), Guillermo Billy Castro (Contributor), Tim LeCroy (Contributor), Greg Ward (Contributor), Barry Henning (Contributor), Otis Westbrook Pickett (Contributor), Samuel Graham (Contributor), Jon Price (Contributor), Irwyn Ince (Contributor), Kevin Twit(Contributor), Bobby Griffith (Contributor), Lance Lewis (Contributor), Alexander Jun (Contributor), Mike Higgins (Contributor), Scott Sauls(Contributor), Sean Michael Lucas (Contributor), Duke Kwon (Contributor), Stan Long (Contributor), Mike Khandjian (Contributor), Kenneth L Foster(Contributor), Joel St.Clair (Contributor), Jonathan Seda (Contributor), Sam Wheatley (Contributor), Mark Peach (Contributor), Howard Brown (Contributor), Walter Henegar (Contributor), Dennis C. Hermerding(Contributor), Chris Cranberry (Contributor), Russ Whitfield (Contributor), Robbie Schmidtberger (Editor)
Heal Us, Emmanuel
Our faith is feeble, we confess We faintly trust Thy word; But will you pity us the less? Be that far from You Lord!
Chorus: Heal us, Emmanuel, here we stand Waiting to feel Thy touch
To deep wounded souls reach forth
Thy hand O Savior, we are such
Remember him who once applied With trembling for relief;
“Lord, I believe,” with tears he cried; “O help my unbelief!”
She, too, who touched you in the press And healing virtue stole,
Was answered, “Daughter, go in peace; Thy faith has made thee whole.” (Chorus)
Like her, with hopes and fears we come To touch You if we may;
O send us not despairing home;
Send none unhealed away