- Tell us a little bit about your church, neighborhood, and ministry in Richmond, VA.
|Pastors of EEF|
Eventually this community grew into 100+ loving Jesus and caring for the community in incarnational ministry and missions. One day John Perkins came to Church Hill and saw what was going on and he told us that we should become a worshipping community. My wife and I were friends with all the people involved and we knew that many suburban middle class black families don’t choose to live in urban environments to be engaged in incarnational community development, so we decided to move into the neighborhood and be a part of what God was doing. The name of that church community is called East End Fellowship (EEF).
|EEF's worship is in a renovated theater!|
I also lead worship across town at a majority white affluent Baptist Church called Bon Air Baptist. I lead worship and give presentations at many conferences. About two years ago, I was leading worship at the Baptist World Congress in Honolulu, HI and met Travis Collins the pastor of Bon Air Baptist Church at this conference. He told me that multi-ethnicity was one of the intentional values the church was emphasizing and they were in need of a worship leader. He knew about my itinerant ministry and my involvement with my community and Church Hill, but he asked me to come and lead worship at the church. It’s been a great time leading worship and being a part of the community of Bon Air Baptist. They are great people that love Jesus.
The two communities are very different in many ways, but there are many similarities. Bon Air is a much an older-aged congregation and East End is a much younger-aged congregation. Bon Air has about 2000 members and East End has 200. Bon Air is in an affluent part of town and East End is in economically depressed part of town that is slowly coming back to life. Both congregations are neighborhood community churches that are serving their context. Both congregations are intentional about multi-ethnicity and racial reconciliation and see how hard it is. Every week when I’m in town, I’m endeavoring to practice what I preach at conferences in two congregations. It’s challenging, but fun.
I think because Richmond has such a wounded history along racial lines, the biblical vision of racial and ethnic unity is at the forefront of many Christians in Richmond. My ministry has been birthed and shaped in this city, so for me, my environment has done more than support my vision, my environment has helped me see this biblical vision in Scriptures and has given me opportunities to practice this biblical vision.
- What are the struggles your congregations faces?
I guess since I’ve written a book, I’m an expert now, but although I do have close to 15 years of doing multicultural ministry, I’m still faced with problems that I don’t have a clue how to solve. There are not a lot of resources to help people with the details of being multicultural congregations. This is the reason why I wrote the Arrabon book and produced the Arrabon CD to help provide resources for people.
Although I’ve spent a lot of time studying multicultural ministry and I’ve spent years doing multicultural ministry, the things that I’ve written are my experiences and I haven’t experienced everything. Both at Bon Air and East End, we are constantly facing new things that make us scratch our heads. I’ve found that not knowing how to solve every problem we face is a good thing because it draws us to God for answers. I think one of the scariest places to be is to become an “expert” on God or worship. We can always be students that are learning and teachers that share what we’ve learned, but when we become “experts” we become inflexible and harder for the Spirit to move us wherever he wants to move us.
- What are some practical first steps for congregations and worship leaders interested in moving in this direction?