Black History Month Interviews

Throughout our liturgies in February, we interviewed four of our fellow ubcer's about their faith journeys and their experiences as people of color.  At the beginning of the month, I stated that we were incorporating Black History Month into our liturgy in the hope that engaging issues of race, and asking the Spirit to shape our thinking in this realm, would extend beyond February, hence our revisiting these interviews now.  

In listening to these interviews, it is my hope that we can get to know Kerri, Kareem, Leah, and Rennekia better, and gain further insight into who God is through their stories about who God has been to them in their own lives.  If you are not a person of color, I would encourage you to do the following as you listen::

1) notice that there isn’t one “black experience.” 
2) listen for the things that people (particularly church people) have done that invalidated or negatively framed this part of who they are, and ask the Spirit to help you seriously consider if you have been complicit, intentionally or not, in causing this sort of pain.
3) imagine how you can carry these sorts of difficult conversations into your own friendships, or how you might apply this curiosity in seeking out blogs, documentaries, etc. to learn from people you do not know personally (because, once again, this sort of vulnerable insight is not something that black people “owe” white people, so outside of the context of relationships, asking these sorts of questions can come across negatively).
4) notice that we live in a culture where no one really has to ask white people about their experiences; not that there is only one “white experience,” either, but our culture—even our American “evangelical” church culture—has been so saturated with white voices, a general idea of whiteness is not difficult to come by.

If you want to read more about the reason we did these interviews, check out the newsletter entry about it here.  At any rate, here are the interviews:

Kerri Fisher is a social worker, writer, and professor at Baylor University.

Kareem Shane is a powerhouse of personality who cares deeply for people, holds an MDiv from Truett Seminary, and works for the VA.

Leah Reed is a junior at Baylor University, where she is a Religion major.  She is also one of our student Leadership Team members.

Rennekia Goffney holds an MDiv from Truett Seminary, and is a gifted preacher and speaker.

As always, if you want to talk about any of this further, you can email

Community Voices

The benefits of being human in Church 

What does it mean to be convicted? For me growing up it meant that sinking feeling in the pew of a too cold sanctuary when my spirit was squeezed to the point of crushing as I was faced with the "truth" that I was not enough.

You see my humanness prevented me from living up to the commandments from the pulpit- those that exceeded the 10, those that called me to the narrowest tightrope. The unofficial-official rules of the playbook.

God loves you- but watch out-he'll judge you at the pearly gates.

God forgives you and all is wiped away, but you must confess continually without ceasing to this community, which may or may not be emotionally or theologically safe.

Walk this painful and lonely road- we will support you in your decision to do so, but in the midst of it you will turn around and we will be in our quiet times, doing devotionals, or watching 7th heaven and we will be to busy to prop you up.

Maybe pray more?

There is an unpardonable sin, and you may be doing it, so you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Josh acknowledges often that we are a church of the over churched and under churched. I fall into the former. There was no reciprocity in the religion of my childhood- it's our way or the highway. I remember attending a small private Christian college in the Midwest and learning there were denominations. Up until that point I thought all Christians were like my community- except for Catholics- Catholics weren't Christian at all.

God was in a box, he was proclaimed to be omnipotent and yet, could only redeem those powerful enough to determine and disseminate the rules from their lofty places in the church. Oh yes, and I could never achieve such a position due to my two X chromosomes. Darn you X chromosomes! It was a helpless feeling in a system that blamed those who felt helpless for not trying hard enough, or doing “it" wrong. This faith thing.

So in-my-life-of-the-church here at UBC many wounds have been healed. Perhaps this is the experience of many of the over-churched amongst us, or perhaps it is unique to me. I am vulnerable to feeling unique (I’m a 4 on the enneagram, don’t judge). The inclusivity, transparency, vulnerability and humility of the leadership; the way in which she stands for a God who can meet you in an industrial building (didn’t it used to be a piggly wiggly?), with open cups of coffee in mismatched mugs, in all your humanness; these are the cornerstones of my new faith. I have been born again, but not in the way my parents might hope.

So to end, where I began- feeling convicted. God slaps me in the face at least once each Sunday between the hours of 10:30-12:00pm. He shows up in the poetic worship, in the authentic liturgy, in the chocolate doughnuts and the sound of my daughters’ shoes slapping against the raw concrete. Her feet sounding applause. I feel God calling me to a better, to a less finite version of him, a more complex understanding that shakes me in a good way. Our community is woven together with filmy thin tendrils of love. The gossamer membership of this precious community in which just showing up affords you belonging; I am happy to be part of this body, and to feel God calling me to be more generous, kinder, vulnerable and open. My heart is squeezed in the “pew," and it's a giant hug, and I am grateful. God is enough, so I don’t have to be.