Own It and Acknowledge It!

November 01, 2022
Since being involved in church ministry, I have always been passionate about social justice. Therefore, as soon as I joined the Southeastern Synod, I joined the Diversity and Justice Team. I have observed in my interaction as a volunteer in the church, intern, seminarian, and now ordained minister, how the church speaks about justice in our world. Justice for the poor, marginalized, afflicted, neglected, etc...these are important, and we look for ways to reconcile in our communities with those who seek justice from their oppressors. In my observation, I have also seen how we do not seek to reconcile or talk about those the church has and keep hurting. When do we seek justice for those who the church has and keeps neglecting? When do we stand as the church and reconcile with those who we have shamed?

Many of our younger people in the community are not coming into the church building. I know this is not a topic only in my congregation. When this question is asked, we must truly seek an honest answer. The church hurts, and no one wants to enter the doors of a building just to be neglected and rejected. My husband had a conversation with his new barber. His new barber is a transgendered male who, at the sound of my husband saying, “my wife is a pastor,” shut down. After this encounter, he spoke to a member of my congregation who knew the barber, who disclosed why he shut down. This transgendered male barber has had religious trauma, not only from his family but the church also. This is just one person out of thousands in our communities with religious trauma.

You might be thinking, “I didn’t hurt them.” While this might be a true statement, just like we represent the Grace and Love of Christ for our members, we represent the aggressor to those individuals with religious trauma in our communities. The church hurts, and we must own it and acknowledge it, even if it wasn’t your fault, to start reconciling with those in our communities to whom our collars represent danger, whose church buildings represent pain, and to who the bible represents hate.
Pastor Marie Kane
St James Lutheran Church
Brunswick, GA