Dear Roosevelt Family,
During the past two Sundays, we have discussed the present tensions in our congregations surrounding politics and race. Roosevelt is a vibrant and diverse church family that is being called into a season of deeper love and affection for one another. As pastors of Roosevelt, we are committed to taking the time to spend together, face to face, listening to and praying with each other.
Our witness to a broken and hurting world is dependent on our ability to love one another in deeper and more profound ways. Our communion and fellowship with God our Father is deeply tied to our communion and fellowship with one another. We are thankful for this challenging season as God uses the cultural challenges of our day to call us to be a faithful, steadfast family of God who is participating in His mission to redeem and restore this world.
If you missed the last two Sundays, here are a few important things to catch you up.
1. The pastors will be hosting meals at our homes between now and Christmas. If you have felt any tension, confusion, or concern with a brother or sister in our church community around politics, race, or other controversial issues, please come fellowship with us. If you are a newer member and are new to being in a multi-cultural church, please especially join us. We are limiting the size, so that we have time to share our hearts, listen to each other, and pray for one another.
2. Take a moment to listen to my sermon from last Sunday. (The link will be provided in a future post.)
3. We had a Town Hall meeting after service. The elders prepared some statements regarding the current election and political/racial tensions. Please take a moment to read the notes BELOW recapping it if you missed it. Even if you were present, please take some time to reflect again on our thoughts. (Scroll down for our notes.)
I speak for all our pastors, deacons, and our families when I say that we love you and are thankful for the opportunity to walk together as we continue to grow into the family God has called us to be. It is a privilege to share the same name with one another, and we are prayerfully expecting the Lord to work in mighty ways as He brings us into a deeper union with Christ and each other for the sake of the world.
Notes from the Town Hall
Four statements and four responses from the RCC elders to each of the statements:
1.Our church has Clinton supporters, our church has Trump supporters, and our church has a bigger range of people who hold all sorts of hybrid positions on the matter.
The elders believe that we should continue to be a church that draws in all people. And even more, to be a church that unites all groups together in the gospel. For Roosevelt, “all people, all of Jesus” means we desire to be a people who have great unity even in the midst of our diversity, and continued diversity even as we become more united with each other.
We are to be a people who have “sincere love for each other” and who “love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Because we “have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1: 23). We are not seeking conformity of position. We are seeking a sincere love that looks and feels like brotherly affection and family unity between our members.
2. Some might think that the current issues related to race, politics, and other controversial issues should not be talked about within the church. Indeed, that we make things worse by talking about them.
The elders believe that we can and must talk about these issues as a church family. In fact, we have a long history of speaking on matters of justice and giving voice to those who are often unheard and afflicted (Proverbs 31:8-9).
Consider, for example, the issue of abortion. Since our first year as a church, we have yearly preached a sermon on Sanctity of Life Sunday where we specifically highlight the sacredness of the unborn child. More than once, I (Vermon) have seen people stand up and leave the building in the middle of this sermon. Another time, a couple asked me to come sit at their kitchen table as they wrestled through how uncomfortable they were with me preaching on this controversial issue.
Clearly, dealing head on with social issues like abortion or sexuality or race will always be risky, especially in a churches like ours that seek to reach a diverse range of people. However, we want to be the type of Christians who have an open Bible in one hand, an open newspaper in our other hand, and alongside our neighbors who are different from us.
So yes, we care about being biblical, first and foremost. God’s people have a long history of being blinded by the cultural idols surrounding them and God’s word has much to say directly to the various types of idolatry and injustice around us. We cannot faithfully preach God’s word without speaking his words to the particular issues we face in our day. We want to be a church family that continually grows in applying God’s word to all areas of our life. For this to happen, we must be a church family whose ears are open to the questions our culture are asking and respond from God’s word with the good news of Jesus.
In a community as diverse as Roosevelt Community Church, we do not have the luxury of keeping our differences under the rug. We must understand the ways the Bible’s message applies to the issues of our day, and mostly through multiple, long, face to face conversations (2 John 12).
3. Some might think that we can talk about whatever we want, however we want.
The elders believe that as Christians our words, especially to one another, should be more carefully considered and circumscribed. Freedom in our diversity as a church family does not mean we have freedom to speak however we want. Our posture and the way we speak to one another matters deeply.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desire.” James 1:19
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness?” James 3:17
“Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holly and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-14
4. Our witness is at stake.
The elders believe the way we fellowship with one another shows the world around us if we are truly disciples of Jesus or not. We do not seek unity with one another simply for the sake of being a closer community. We are a people who have been called to declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness and into his glorious light 1 Peter 2:9). This means we are called to be a unique witness of the light of God to a world that is in darkness.
Many living in our city right now are fearful, angry, confused, frustrated, cynical. Most especially, they are isolated from one another. The fear, anger, confusion, cynicism and division happening within our own city and nation must be encountered with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must seek to draw near to those who are suffering from oppression, poverty, and pain and proclaim the news that was good to the poor, freedom to the prisoner, recovery of sight to the blind, and proclaims the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19).
Rather than being a microcosm of whatever division is happening in the world around us, we must press in closer to one another and seek reconciliation that is grounded and rooted in a deep love for Christ and one another. Our relationship with one another should stand out against the backdrop of a hurting and broken world. Indeed, the way we live with one another and treat one another as family should be an aroma of Christ that is distinct to the world (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). Everyone around us should be able to identify us as disciples of Jesus because they see the love we have for one another (John 13:35). We are to be salt and light, the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. God has given us the ministry of reconciliation through Jesus Christ. We are his ambassadors; God making his appeal to the world through us (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
Roosevelt has come to a place where we must grow in love, where we must strengthen our ability to listen and learn from one another, and pursue deeper reconciliation with one another. I (Vermon) am deeply thankful that we are at this place. We are at a moment in our church’s history where the Spirit is calling us into deeper fellowship with the Father and deeper communion with the saints, for the sake of being a more faithful and bright witness to this world.
The elders are prayerful and hopeful for the fruit the Spirit will birth in this season, knowing that the Lord will bless us as we seek him together in truth and love. We are looking forward to sharing meals with many of you over the next few weeks and beyond. Please take a moment to sign up for one of the meals and continue to pray for what the Lord might do in and through us as a family.