As the Elders of Paradox, we are charged to cultivate the spiritual life of our church. This responsibility compels us to make a statement of full celebration and affirmation for people of all races, cultures, and ethnicities. We commit to building an anti-racist culture in our leadership and congregation as we work to dismantle white supremacy.
We came to this conclusion through more than four years of extended study of the Holy Bible, sustained prayer in search of God’s guidance, and deepening in our personal relationships within our church body.
Therefore, may everyone who connects with us know that we at Paradox…
… believe that every person from every culture and ethnicity is lovingly crafted in the image of God. Every person’s culture, race, and ethnicity is a unique and irreplaceable testament to the Divine.
… recognize that much of Western Christianity has historically perpetuated white supremacy, profiting from colonialism and genocide on stolen land. Therefore, we will teach the history of Western Christianity’s racism in its most honest terms so that we avoid the temptation of allowing our religion to be co-opted by the sin of white supremacy. By learning to recognize racism in our history, we will become better at recognizing racism today and work boldly against it as we follow Jesus Christ.
… refuse to practice coded racism by dismissing or criticizing those of other belief systems whose religious and cultural practices are not held by the majority of the membership of Paradox. We acknowledge that Christianity has practiced racial discrimination and genocide under the guise of religious righteousness, and we reject that practice.
… prioritize human rights as a sacred endeavor. We are called to be part of our local community and to stand with those among us who are suffering due to racism. This includes police brutality, racial profiling, family separations at the border, undocumented immigrant injustice, and other human rights issues.
… recognize that racism in the Christian faith includes a long history of sending missionaries to proselytize and indoctrinate people of various cultures all over the world; with little respect to the beliefs and customs already present in those communities. Paradox rejects this form of mission and will never participate in it because we recognize the harm this creates. We value and respect cultures different from those found within our church.
… understand that, when part of the majority group, we need to be careful not to erase other cultures. When speaking about race and culture, we will use language to reflect that we are “one” and not “us versus them”.
… will not tolerate racist language, actions or racial abuses (commonly referred to as microaggressions). We appreciate that naming this behavior when it happens is an important step in building an anti-racist culture.
… build environments for genuine listening that center the experience of marginalized groups. We invite folks to engage in personal growth, understanding that members are at various stages of incorporating anti-racism in their lives.
… commit to structuring worship services that are culturally inclusive and celebratory, which consists of an intentional approach to incorporating diverse representation through all music and art forms in our services while honoring creativity in its native tongue.
… encourage church leadership (pastoral staff, employees, trustees, elders and volunteers) to reflect the diversity of our church congregation, and ordain pastors in full appreciation of who they are without expectation for assimilation.
… embolden our staff to preach against racism with awareness of their social location. When considering guest speakers and podcast guests, our staff will invite guests who can speak to perspectives that are different than their own.
… craft sermons with a deepened understanding of how different cultures interpret the Bible as we decolonize the teachings and messages of Scripture. We will present a variety of perspectives including Liberation and Womanist theology.
… dedicate ourselves to teaching our children and young persons the sacred work of anti-racism. This includes building and providing resources for parenting strategies to use at home, creating programming for youth that is inclusive and celebrates diversity, and discussing the history of racism and its effects today.
… create and provide educational resources and programming on anti-racism with topics including: racism vs. prejudice, intersectionality, colorism, historical factors impacting modern politics and society, and action steps to combat racism at a personal and systemic level.
… acknowledge the physical and emotional stress experienced by victims and witnesses of racist acts. We will engage in communal practices, including meditation and other spiritual exercises, to help our bodies heal from the effects of racism.
We say and commit to all of these things in order to bring glory and honor to God, to see and embrace Jesus Christ in all.
The Elders of Paradox Church