Written by the Rev. Jemonde Taylor
Though many would like to think otherwise, sometimes Christian practices can do more to reinscribe racism than disrupt racism. The images in the stained-glass windows and Sunday school lessons, the hymns sung and types of music played, the sermons preached and scripture read, and other liturgical practices can all be, and have been, vehicles advancing a theology of white supremacy, the belief that one race is superior to another. Theologian Dr. Jay Kameron Carter believes Western Christianity is the suturing white supremacy and Christianity. Saint Ambrose, Raleigh, a historically black Episcopal congregation, is commited to the “un-suturing” of white supremacy from Christianity through worship and educational practices.
The hope is to ensure all see themselves as beloved children of God. Worship spaces should be uplifting and community-centered, where one feels connected to the divine. The truth is many beloved Christian traditions do not grant that to people of color. In examining the traditions of Christian practice from the point of view of those who have rarely seen themselves reflected in imagery, vocabulary, or music, the goal is not to choose one over the other—or to condemn the practices themselves—but rather to show how powerful it can be, and how much deeper the meaning of those traditions go, when what surrounds Christian practices opens to embrace and reflect every child of God.