Eugene Cho

After Charleston: An Open Letter to White Christians from a White Female Pastor

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We are all still in shock and pain. Yesterday, I wrote these brief words on social media about the tragic events at Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina.

There’s a time to argue issues and there’s a time to just grieve, mourn, weep. Now is that time to grieve, mourn, weep.

Tomorrow will come and may God give us wisdom and courage to be both fierce and gentle, prophetic and pastoral…in pursuit of God’s Kingdom here on this earth.

But today…we lament. We lament. We lament.

Well, we continue to lament, and grieve, and weep. And as we do so, we must have the courage indeed to be both fierce and gentle, prophetic and pastoral. We must have the courage to speak up. Today, I asked Rev. Liz Mosbo Verhage, one of our pastors at Quest Church and also an adjunct professor at North Park Theological Seminary, for permission to share her courageous post entitled, “An Open Letter to White Christians From a White Female Pastor.” 

Please take a read. Please take this heart.

An Open Letter to White Christians from a White Female Pastor

I am grieving and lamenting and beyond angry over what feels like open season on the Black Community/Church right now in the United States.

White Christians, this is the time to pay attention and be part of our nation’s struggle to understand and address the continual violence happening against our black sisters and brothers. When one part of the Body hurts we all hurt – when one part of the Body is repeatedly targeted, killed, not protected, pulled out of swimming pools, seen as threats when unarmed – and then misrepresented, silenced, or made small through ahistoric excuses, side-stepping through political mess, or any other form of evil – we need to stand up. We need to show up – loudly. We need to demand a different response – and start with our people in the church.

White church – and the wider church in general – this is the time for all of us to engage. Help present the truth wherever you can, whether it’s on facebook or over lunch at work. Fight for life, by holding up friends right now and grieving with those too tired to carry on, and preparing for advocacy and work that is necessary and is always before us in the future. Seek to understand, lament, and see the systems and principalities at work in our world, in our churches, maybe in our minds – ask Christ for the eyes to see. Thank you to all those already in the game – advocating, grieving, listening, standing with, and paying attention.

If you’re not sure what to do – start paying attention, right now. Read articles from the Black Community, notice the particular beauty and pain within the Black Church, start to feel this pain and shock and repeated abuse as if it were in your own family, because, well, it is. Pray, pray more, confess, lament, and learn more, and pray some more. Bring this up with your people. Ask about this reality of race and death at your church – where will it be addressed within worship this Sunday? Where will we take our part of the responsibility of educating, advocating, understanding, speaking out, and helping change how race and faith and life and death are seen in the US? Publicly share information and lament and hope with others. Publicly stand for and with and fight this sense of black life not being as valuable, as noticed, as mourned. The more we join the outrage and point to the truth that ‪#‎faithandracealwaysmatter‬ and ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬, the more we help open up spaces of lament, healing, Good News, justice, reconciliation, hope and the potential for life to flourish.

This is not a time to leave the black community alone, to let them mourn or be angry or fix it alone.

White Christians, we inherited this mess and this story of power and privilege and racism that shapes our individual lives, our corporate realities, and even our congregations. The wider church and the world will be shaped by how we choose to engage or turn away from this kind of death. Particularly those of us with any voice, leadership, influence, and the privilege to choose whether or not to engage issues of death and race – it is time to get in the game. Because of course, this is no game – these issues of racism and how we choose to see truthfully or speak up – these are literally matters of life and death for the Black Community. So it is past time to choose life, to advocate for our people – all people – in the Body of Christ. It is on our shoulders to be part of fighting the evil we are witnessing over and over in our nation that is taking and diminishing Black life – actively, with faith and hope and love, and with each other.

#‎payattention ‬ #‎prayforCharleston ‬ ‪
#‎standwiththeBlackChurch‬ ‪#‎OneBody‬

Rev. Liz Mosbo VerHage , Ph.D., is an ordained pastor, professor, preacher, teacher, author, practicing theologian, wife and mom. She is the Pastor of Global and Local Ministries at Quest Church in Seattle, equipping the church to engage in presence, justice, advocacy, and compassion, and is an adjunct teacher for the Urban Ministry M.Div. and D.Min. program at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago.

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25 Responses

  1. Angela says:

    I’M SPANISH AND FEEL THE PAIN OF THIS COMMUNITY IS GOING THROUGH , BECAUSE OUR COMMUNITY IS SOFFER ALSO, INJUSTICE, PERSECUCIÓN AND THE LIST CAN BE BIG, IS TIME TO CHANGE THE MENTALITY OF THIS PEOPLE THE THINKS THERE ARE SUPERIOR, THEIR ARE THINKING THAT KILLING, AND HURTS OTHER WILL PLANT FEAR, EVERY BODY WILL RESPECT FOR WHAT THEY DID.
    RESPECT IS MORE IMPORTANT IS YOU RESPECT HOW I’M IF YOU MIX WITH LOVE IS IMPORTANT, YOU WILL SEE CHANGE, WEN YOU USES RIGHT.

    BRING THE WORD OF GOD AGAIN TO SCHOOL AND TO ANY GOVERNMENT BUILDING, US A NATION YOU START THE SEPARATION FROM GOD, NOW OTHER ARE PAYING THAT CONSECUENS. IS TIME TO START ALL OVER AGAIN, PEOPLE DON’T HAVE NO FEAR FROM NOTHING.

    CHARLESTON I FEEL YOU PAIN MY BROTHERS AND SISTER ON CHIRST, I FORGIVE THE YOUNG BOY THAT USES THIS FEAR IN THE WRONG WAY.
    PRAY ALL THE TIME FOR A UNITED NACIÓN
    JUST TO HONOR THE NAME OF THIS COUNTRY UNITED STATE OF AMERICA, NACIÓN UNDER GOD, MAKE THIS MORE OF JUST WORDS, MAKE THIS AND A ACTION FOR OTHER.
    AS A SPANISH AND CHRISTIAN I WILL KEEP PRAYING FOR MY COMMUNITY, BLACK AND WHITE, MAYBE ONE DAY WILL SEE JUST ONE BODY AND ONE NATION, SEPARATION JUST MAKING THIS NATION WEAK AND WITH OUT GOD VULNERABLE. JUST THINK ABOUT IT.

  2. brettfish says:

    Thank you. It is great to see white voices speaking up on something that for so long seems to be left to people of colour.

    Keep on
    love brett fish

  3. Jenna J says:

    Only a Racist would say people are white and black. If wrong is wrong….what color does it make?

    • Tramaine says:

      No. It’s not racist to point out racial difference. As a matter of fact, God created us all differently. So we are all perfectly made in his image and pointing out race in the right way points to the creative heart of God. Nothing wrong with that.

    • rb says:

      You are so correct, in my opinion. There are those who want to make everything racial. These are the racist who are causing trouble in this country.

    • Stacy says:

      I agree with Tramaine A Stallworth. Color-blindness hides and ignores the fact that we’re different- in culture, circumstances, backgrounds. We are ALL children of God and reflect Him in ways like a multifaceted diamond. Our differences are made beautiful by His grace and understanding/extending that grace and love to each other.

  4. Colleen says:

    Why is this a white issue? Why should I take responsibility for a crazy person’s wrong decision??? Stop blaming race and start prosecuting the individual. I’m so tired of hearing how whites are the issue. We are all corrupt apart from Christ. The actions against Charleston have nothing to do with race and everything to do with depravity. Let’s pray with people. Let’s reveal Jesus to a broken culture. Let’s pray that God would open hearts to salvation. But let’s stop blaming race for an individual’s insanity

  5. Jennifer F. says:

    It is so easy to turn and act like it is not an issue, being from a multi cultural family with all different color skin, we see it. The looks, the comments. The truth is no matter the color racism is real. This includes us Caucasians as well. Our fight is against not of flesh and blood., but principalities and powers.So pray for our brothers and sisters, that’s how one can be help.

  6. […] After Charleston: An open letter to white christians from a white female pastor, Liz Verhage, shared… […]

  7. […] 5. After Charleston: An Open Letter to White Christians from a White Female Pastor […]

  8. rb says:

    Why can’t we talk about Christians ? Why do we have to talk about black, white, brown or yellow persons. This sounds like someone trying to bring trouble. Many, many people have gone hungry, been poor, abused, lived without the finer things of life with little education. It makes no difference the color. I speak from experience . Please do not be racial, but speak about human beings, not color. Everyone has an opinion, and I wanted you to know my opinion.

    • Confused Christian says:

      …and I would like for you to know mine. We ARE talking about Christians. In this particular instance, however, we are talking about Black Christians. A group of people targeted NOT because they were Christian, but SPECIFICALLY because they are…were Black. Why is it SO terribly difficult to understand that there is an entire race of people who are being targeted in this country simply because of the color of their skin? How can you not recognize that as an ISSUE? Why in the name of everything honest and holy do people believe that ignoring race (when it is SO obviously an issue) is the right approach? And one more question…why is it that when an individual WHITE person guns down innocent Black people, it is a singular issue, to be viewed as a one-off occurrence (no matter how many times it happens), but when a Black person does something, ANYTHING, it is a reflection on our entire race? These are just questions, but they are not rhetorical. From one Christian to another, I am sincerely interested in your thoughts on these matters. I would really like to know the answers. Feel free to represent the entire race of White people, since we are so often called on to do that for Black people.

  9. scfinley121 says:

    Another important way to get in the game is for “white churches” which we should consider a scandal anyway, to go beyond reading, social media links and work conversations and call the leaders of “black churches” in your community, and first just listen. Then get together. Get to know each other. Be the neighbors we all keep talking about – we can’t do that from a distance or from laptops online. Our hearts are in the right place, but it’s time for action to back it up…

  10. Trine says:

    I am so appreciative of this stand by Rev. Verhage.
    I have been watching and listening to various Ministers/Pastors of European/Caucasian/White decent wondering and praying when they stand speak the heart of God concerning the atrocities and injustices that the Afrodecendants have been consistently experiencing at the hands of the governing body and others of this society and culture.

  11. Michael Johnson says:

    How many black lives were lost in Baltimore on the Memorial Day week end? How many black lives are lost day after day in Chicago? How many black lives are lost every day in abortion clinics. I think you are focusing solely on a very minor problem to the exclusion of others.

  12. Great Sentiment but lets do something and start a movement.

    Google AME church
    Read Phillipains 4 and Romans 12:1-2…chew on them
    Pray

    Its “Fathers Day” tommorrow, What do you get for the father that has (created) everything…..I suspect little returns the blessing to Him more than intentional unity in the body and genuinely loving on our hurting brothers and sisters

    Put your vanity and your comfort zone on the altar and head down to an AME church.

    How many do you think it would take to make Him Smile, How many to make him gush with Joy and cry…How many to make Abba Daddy do a back flip…how ironic would it be if a crazed white supremist was a catalyst to unifying the body and what greater honor can we give to our fallen brothers and sisters and their families.

    Stop stalking Jesus and start incarnating His love in a Radical way.

  13. […] (Grateful to have this piece also shared on sojo.net and eugenecho.com) […]

  14. Karen S. says:

    I love this letter, Pastor Liz. May God use your words to draw many closer to him.

    Many of the comments fill my heart with fear and make my stomach lurch. Stubborn pride is a persistent sin among white Christians. If we (and yes, I use the collective we to refer to and own my whiteness) cannot repent of this, we’re doomed to be stuck wringing our hands and wondering why the church is so racially segregated.

  15. lbay93 says:

    Reblogged this on Discovering Fernweh and commented:
    #staywoke

  16. ournulife says:

    Pastor Liz thank you for speaking from the heart during this tragic time. Its fellow believers like you that help us all to “speak up” against what is happening. I pray that the Lord will continue to use you to shake our social consciousness to be quicken to live into His reconciliation and love. Blessings on you.

  17. Eugene, We would love to see your great articles on http://www.CollectiveFaith.com. Please join and share with our Christian Social Network.

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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