Racial Identity and the Church

How to foster a sense of home
Racial Identity and the Church

Each week we sat in a circle, huddled in a dorm room preparing our hearts for worship. For an entire semester our small group of diverse women gathered together to pray. One day a new face joined our little group. When it was time for her to pray, she started off shyly, carefully choosing each word. A voice within the group gently interrupted, “You know you can pray in any language you want.” We all felt her body shift as she exclaimed, “Really?” We opened our eyes and nodded in unison. As she switched from English to Spanish, the words burst from her small body, rushing together like a song. She sounded like an entirely different person. We only knew some phrases and key words, but that young woman lifted all of our hearts that night. By affirming her, we saw her true identity, and our view of God was expanded as we all imagined God whispering in Spanish back to her, back to us all.

Whether homogenous or multiracial, what do we lose by not actively engaging our racial and ethnic identites?

Though she was praying in a language I didn’t know, there was something familiar about her worship. Attending a black church as a child, I remember being enthralled by hand-waving praise, melodious sermons, and gospel music that rose and fell with the emotions of the church. For two hours, we really were one body. Once our new group member was given the freedom to be herself, those memories and my own cultural background suddenly felt affirmed. An intense wave of belonging and connection took over. After that moment, we were never more committed to our group’s rule for cultural authenticity and cooperative participation. We all felt like we were home.

Member access onlyYou have reached the end of this Article Preview
To continue reading, join now for free and get complete access.
orJoin Now for Free

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Austin Channing Brown

Austin Channing Brown is a TCW regular contributor and columnist. A resident director and multicultural liaison at Calvin College, Austin is passionate about racial reconciliation—and has a slight obsession with books. When she's not reading, you'll find Austin watching HGTV or updating her blog AustinChanning.com.

Free CT Women Newsletter

Sign Up For Our weekly Newsletter CT's weekly newsletter highlighting the voices of women writers. We report on news and give our opinion on topics such as church, family, sexuality, discipleship, pop culture, and more!

Church; Culture; Ethnicity; Identity; Racial Reconciliation
Today's Christian Woman, January Week 3, 2015
Posted January 21, 2015

Read These Next


Join in the conversation on Facebook or Twitter

Follow Us

More Newsletters