Engaging the church and community to advance racial equity and justice through education, lamentation, prayer, and cross-cultural unity.
West Michigan is an amazing place, but it’s also an enigma. Our region, which includes Greater Grand Rapids and Holland, is prosperous, generous, entrepreneurial, educated, and deeply influenced by the Christian faith. In fact, Grand Rapids has been ranked as the number one city in the US to raise a family. We celebrate this! However, Grand Rapids has also been ranked among the worst in the country for African Americans to live. People of color are not benefiting from the prosperity of our region, and this is happening within the Church as well. (Click on “Why?” below for more on this disparity.)
Therefore, as we proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and pursue unity in the Church, if we don’t talk about racial equity and justice, we risk undercutting our own efforts. Jesus himself taught that unity among his followers has the power to prove or disprove the truth about Him (John 17:23).
As Pastor Chris Brooks describes in the video above, the early church faced a situation of inequity and injustice, too. Hellenistic widows were not benefiting from the resources of the Church in the same way Hebraic widows were (Acts 6:1-7). So they spoke up, and the apostles took action, and “the word of God spread.” We need a similar movement in the Church to address inequities and injustices, especially those that stem from racial divides we’ve inherited and perpetuated from the past. Our hope is that with greater equity and greater justice in the church, we will see the word of God spread and many more will embrace the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, alongside the One West Michigan service opportunities in education and housing, we are creating opportunities to engage racial equity and justice in West Michigan.