I devoted this month to preaching on Black and White relations, and realized that I omitted a serious matter of Black and Black relations! Last Sunday, I met with many of the African members of The Park. They represent many African nations, but most were from Nigeria. I initiated the meeting because I wanted to let them know that I see them, I am excited to be their pastor and I want to ensure that they feel comfortable here at The Park.
Why do such a thing? I realize that our African members are minorities at this church, and I know that often minorities are left out and overlooked. In fact, if we are honest, we sometimes treat them the way some White people treat us. The relationship between African and African Americans has been described as “complicated,” “chilly,” and “filled with serious tension.” To all of this I say, “Not on my watch!!”
At the meeting, our African church members shared incidents of being mistreated by African Americans in the workplace. Our African members are long-time members of The Park, yet they are not integrated into the general flow of our activities. This must change. The ugly truth is that there are hurtful stereotypes on both sides. The truth is, we have strong cultural differences. But, through the blood of Jesus, we can be kin folk and skin folk.
I came to the conclusion that The Park would strive to be a place where Africans and African Americans can learn to understand and appreciate each other. To begin this, The Park will recognize Nigerian Independence Day on Sunday, October 1, 2017. They will wear native clothing to celebrate. Let us share their joy.
“We are brothers and sisters separated by oceans.”
Dr. Sheron C. Patterson