Every Thursday night I’m out on the streets of Gates Chili talking with neighbors. It’s a lot of fun and I hope others in church will join me. But last Thursday I had a great conversation with an African-American man who’s lived here for 20 years. I asked him what a mostly-white church like ours could do to help him feel comforted in the wake of the police brutality and racial terrorism America has witnessed recently. He mused “My wife sometimes wants a more diverse church. We go to a black church and sometimes it’d be nice to have something different”. Interesting.
The man said he’d noticed the kids at our summer camp are from all races. That comforted him. It’s significant that he noticed that just by driving by. He didn’t notice the message I’d put up on the outdoor sign after the Charleston shooting expressing solidarity with black Christians. He did notice live people from different races mixing and having fun together.
The man also said that over his 20 years on the street he’d seen more and more black people moving in. That constitutes an opportunity for our church. More than any suburb of Rochester, Gates-Chili serves as an entry-point for black people entering the middle class. I’m not sure if it’s equally true of Hispanic people, but just think – Jesus could create something in our church that our country badly needs: real friendships between people of different races.