Eugene Cho

race. racism. racialization.

well, it was a very interesting sunday.  very exhausting.  obviously, the content of the sermon (issues of faith and racism) contributed to the exhaustion.  i also made the mistake of checking email on sunday between services (which i should not do); just the number of hits and comments on this blog in the past 24 hours, emails, and comments after the sermon is verification enough that the church (including quest) doesn’t speak enough about ‘faith and race.’  as i shared yesterday during the sermon yesterday, our faith cannot be contained for a sunday or a 90 minute service.  if faith in jesus is real, it must engage every aspect of our lives.  ultimately, it invades, affects, redeems, and transforms our worldview.

so, some of the interest comments from yesterday:

“are you saying that white folks are racist?” my short answer: of course not.  i’m not saying that YOU are a racist, i’m merely speaking about ‘systemic’ or ‘institutional’ racism.  and yes, i again want to affirm that the core of the issue is human sin and depravity.

“are you saying that all churches should be multicultural?”  my short answer:  they already are.  are you asking should they be multiethnic?  for the majority, yes.  i’m a big supporter of the ethnic church but believe that predominantly anglo churches need to be stretched and english speaking ethnic churches need to be stretched.  you can wrestle with the definition of ‘stretched.’

“will you talk about faith and gender inequality?”  my short answer:  yes.  when?  not sure yet.

“who made that video?”  the video, entitled, ‘silent racism’  was done by five folks who attended the 2006 faith and race class this past summer as a homework assignment.  if you missed it or want to see it again, you can see it on youtube here.

“you said you support affirmative action.  why is that fair?”  my short answer:  yes, i support affirmative action.  is it fair? you’re asking the wrong question. 

“so, do you dislike white people?”  my answer:  (laughing) of course not; i pastor quest church and i’m called to love and serve all at quest and beyond. 

my favorite question (i think asked jokingly): “are you racist?” my answer: no, i’m not racist.  like many others, if not all, i struggle with the subtleties of my prejudice.  although not a racist, i now understand the realities of what it means to be ‘racialized.’  perhaps cornel west (professor of religion at princeton) says it best: “It is impossible to be an American and not racialize how your feel.”

this past sunday was also more interesting with a) a professor from dallas theological seminary visiting.  he teaches issues dealing with culturally diverse congregations (i think) and  b) a nobel peace prize nominee and others visiting from burma  who intimately know oppression, racism, suffering,  and genocide because it is happening NOW.  a question that emerged from the group, “what do you say to those who are oppressed?” 

finally, a powerful image for me yesterday was looking across the beautiful congregation at quest where i feel so privileged to serve and lead.  i appreciate so much the attentiveness of each person as we engaged a difficult conversation and even more humbled, that many different people (across different ethnicities, stories, and age) have chosen to disceringly sumbit themselves to my leadership and teaching.  yesterday, i was taken back to see numerous asian and african-american questers in tears or near tears. 

looking forward to this upcoming sunday.  although several have expressed disappointment about quest in regards to our ‘superficial approach’ to multiculturalism, my goal has always been to gather people so that TOGETHER we can grow in Jesus, and through LIFE and COMMUNITY TOGETHER, we’ll have the opportunity to share our stories together – in hopes of learning, teaching, modeling, embodying, deepening, caring, loving, and ultimately, experiencing a new kind of worldview or life which i believe jesus referred to as ‘abundant life’ in the gospel of john.

Filed under: asian-american, culture, emerging church, quest church

7 Responses

  1. elderj says:

    interesting post…i wish i could have heard the sermon. I don’t know what to say

  2. eugenecho says:

    joshua, thanks for the post. it wasn’t that great of a sermon imo but you can listen to it at: http://seattlequest.org/sermons/2006.10.22.m3u

    blessings to you.

  3. Nancy says:

    Hi,
    I was one of those priviledged to participate in this summer’s series on Faith and Race – and it changed my life. I struggle with the definition of what it means to be a racist as I am gradually expanding the definition to include me, since as a white woman I have participated in and benefited from a racist system. That awareness now demands response.

    I moved about an hour north of Quest as the series was ending and have sought out a church closer to home. I’ve been attending a growing church in Kirkland the past month and can say that for the first time in my life I am in an all white group and feel uncomfortable (thank you Quest). The discomfort comes both from missing my brothers and sisters of color and from having an awareness not shared by others. So maybe, Eugene, you have unintentionally launched a Quest missionary into the suburbs to start more difficult conversations about race there. As I said, the awareness now demands a response.

    A big part of the conversation about race and our history of racialization involves moving through various stages of denial, anger and disillusionment with what you’ve been taught and who you are. That doesn’t happen in a Sunday, doesn’t happen in a month, may take years. The important thing is to keep having the conversation.

    My time at Quest was bracketed by the Faith and Race series – I came with the first, and ended with this last one and is a beautiful picture of the gift I continue to receive from you.

    Keep having the conversation!
    Blessings,
    Nancy

  4. eugenecho says:

    nancy,

    it is so good to hear from you. thanks so much for your post and your encouraging words.

    we miss having you here but rejoice in knowing that you continually seek to honor jesus through your life and responses.

    e

  5. Timothy Arthur O'Brien says:

    Hello,

    I want to pass along some advice I’ve gotten over the years. In the post, you are quoted as saying “that is the wrong question” to a hypothetical person who asks whether affirmative action is fair. I think that as a pastor you should know that there are no wrong questions. We try to speak of questions being valid or invalid in the context of constructive discussion, but to call a question wrong is to disdain the person who asked it. I think that most people agree that asking whether affirmative action is fair is a valid question.

    To call the question “wrong” is kind of like a shorthand for you to access a certain emotional response, like a father might get from a son. Like saying, “that’s the wrong wrench, you need the 5/16.” The response hoped for is, “thanks dad.” Fortunately or unfortunately the conversation about racism and affirmative action is not as simple as picking the right tool or the right measurement.

    I can imagine an invalid question being something like, “don’t you think he’s an idiot for believing in affirmative action?” Asking whether or not it’s fair definitely isn’t a wrong thing to do, and it isn’t a wrong choice among a list of possible questions either. A satisfyingly varied group of questions are asked in a complete discussion, and none of them are wrong.

    Best Regards,

    Timothy Arthur O’Brien

  6. […] is important because the church’s viability is at stake.  There’s also the issue that ‘Race Matters.’  Huh?  Just check out the whole painful fiasco with what is referred to as Jena 6.  Society is […]

  7. […] which was next door. Pastor Eugene Cho raises important questions on his blog about everything from race and racialization to the recent crisis in Burma. Eugene will be speaking at our conference next […]

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One Day’s Wages

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To support both the equality of women and the dignity of the unborn feels like a very lonely place to be but I know we're not alone. May we press on. And may we lead with hope.

I'm at the Women's March in Seattle to show my solidarity with my wife, my mothers, my daughters, and the female congregants of my church. I'm also here to model for my son what we believe in our home. Many people have already expressed their disappointment, dismay, and disgust with my decision. Such is life. We will always disappoint someone. And that's also a lot of words that begin with "d." I'm here not because I agree or disagree with every single statement or sign at this march (although I really liked this one) but because as a Christian, I believe in the fundamental truth that women are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. They are to be valued, heard, and respected.

And because I believe we can't be a flourishing society without the flourishing of women. And because the Church cannot be the Church without the gifts and voices of women. All the gifts of women.

And in doing so, may we together honor the sanctity of life - from womb to tomb. Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards

my tweets

  • Really loved this sign from the women's march from one of our church congregants. Counter cultural. Subversive. L… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… || 4 hours ago
  • To support both the equality of women & the dignity of the unborn can be lonely but we're not alone. Lead with hope: instagram.com/p/BPjMGTOhMjL/ || 5 hours ago
  • To support both the equality of women & the dignity of the unborn feels like a very lonely place to be but we're not alone. May we press on. || 8 hours ago
  • Going to the Women's March in Seattle bc as a Christian, I believe women are fearfully and wonderfully made and are to be heard & respected. || 11 hours ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 12 hours ago
  • God bless America...so that we may be a blessing to the hurting, poor, vulnerable, immigrants, oppressed, marginalized. God bless America. || 1 day ago

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