Two and half years ago, the Ferguson, Missouri riots prompted a group of ethnically diverse pastors and ministry leaders in Plano, Texas to examine the potential for a similar outbreak in their city. Before long, the group sought out the City Manager, Chief of Police and Mayor of Plano and held a cordial and well-received conversation about the state of racial relations in the community. The conversation was good, but for many of the pastors it didn't feel like enough. Somehow the Church still felt unprepared for the possibility of something like the events in Ferguson breaking out in their town. The next steps were clear. They needed stronger relationships with each other.
Questions arose. Where are the relationships between the racially and ethnically segregated churches? What leaders would be able to stand together to show unity and understanding from not only a Christian but also a personal level?
Weeks after the conversation, the group dwindled down, but a few individuals decided to continue the discussion around the racial division particularly in the Church. They started by reading through the book entitled “Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to The Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” They met monthly for lunch discussions around the book and other catalytic racial events of the day. With each meeting this group of Black, White, Asian and Hispanic individuals came face to face with their own blind spots around the issues and race and social injustice. They dug deep, questioned and challenged each other each month, all the while strengthening their bond not only as brothers and sisters in Christ, but also as friends.
By the time they finished “Letters…” they could see how their racial community, even themselves individually, had contributed to the racial divide in the county as well as in the Church. But more, they also began to identify with the lives and perspectives of the other races around the table. Other races were more than stereotypes and assumptions. They were people too.
They began to grow a unifying affection for each other. They realized that in Christ they all had a common identity. Through Christ, they had unity. Their common identity in Christ transcended all other identities. So, when they bristled at the descriptions of their race on the news or in everyday conversation, as a group they could always reset to the unity in the Gospel. In this they finally found the tool that could truly bring reconciliation to the fractured state of racial relations -- the model of Jesus Christ. They then knew as followers of Jesus they could make a difference in the conversation of racial reconciliation.
Fast forward to July of 2016, when the nation witnessed a week full of fatal shooting incidents between the Police and members of the African American community. The bloodiest incident took place right down the street in the city of Dallas. Those events inspired the group to commit themselves to the work of reconciliation with the Gospel as the model. So, in August of 2016 the group took on the name of Threaded; a named meant to explain the way they had come together over the past year. They were separate strings going separate ways, but through Christ were woven together and placed on a mission to inspire relationships, reconciliation and collaborative action between the diverse Body of Christ.
This is Threaded.