White Wing Messenger|September 2020
As I was doing research for this article, the following words written by Rev. Brian A. Tillman, chair of the Commission on Religion and Race in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, leaped off the page as I was reading. “Reconciliation is not something we hold hands and pray for God to do — no Kumbaya. It is work that God has given to us to do.”1 This quote is instructive as we seek to understand what it means to engage in the ministry of reconciliation, particularly against the backdrop of the current global protests against racial injustice. Reconciliation is the work of the church.

1Brian Tillman, “Racial Reconciliation: No Handholding Kumbaya,”

All the statistics cited were taken from the Barna Research Group, Black Christians are Twice as Likely as Their White Peers to See a Race Problem, Articles in Culture and Media in Faith & Christianity, June 17, 2020

The ministry of reconciliation is grounded in the biblical text. Paul uses the Greek noun katallage, which is translated as “reconciliation” and the verb katallasso, which is translated as “to reconcile.” Etymologically, the basic idea is to change or make otherwise. In Greek social and political arenas, the term denoted a change in relations between individuals, groups, or nations. In the religious arena, it signified relationships between gods and humans.

There has been a tendency, particularly in evangelical circles, to view reconciliation primarily through the lens of individualism. In other words, it is the individual’s sin that creates the enmity with God and others, thus the need is always for the individual to reconcile with God. However, while the present injustices that have precipitated the racial tension in the nation seem to be the product of individual acts, the problem lies deeper – namely systemic injustice and racism.


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September 2020