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conversations with some black people November 30, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church, Emerging Culture, South Africa.
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I’m currently working for the department of education, helping at a marking centre for matric final exams. We are a group of just over 30 assistants, of which 6 is white. I had long conversations with two people I met today. We had conversations about church and theology. The one is a girl, Sibel, studying pshycology, and we talked about theology, intercultural dialogue, and a bit about the racial division. And it didn’t take long before some of the black girls made some comments to Sibel about talking to a white guy, and again I realised that racial division is still running high. The other guy, Eugene, asked me “what do you think about church?”.
I asked him a few questions, trying to figure out why he asked, and then started explaining the history of the church as I see it, and the emerging church as I see it. Turns out he is from central Africa originally, and a x-Catholic. He decided to end his membership of all churches, being both against denominations and against starting new churches. Sadly, I had to admit that the emerging church conversation is a primarily white, western conversation. Not that we don’t want people from other cultures, but simply that we don’t seen able to make them part of the conversation on a really significant level.
But in South Africa we cannot afford to have just another white conversation. Not that it’s simple to have an inter-cultural one, but I believe that an emerging church in South Africa need to be inter-cultural. In a society still plagued by racism, people following Christ need to open new doors of genuine community across cultural barriers. Now, I’ve lived here long enough to know how easy it is to get people from different racial backgrounds to belong to a single institution, even recite creeds together, but still keep there lives completely apart.
We have to deal with much more than the so-called western “post-modern” culture and philosophy when trying to be church in South Africa. But th can be such an enriching conversation. We can really make a contribution to the church in the world, because we can have a real multi-racial and multi-cultural conversation. But a very deep commitment from people on all sides will be necessary.

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