The Black Church Still Speaks on the Future of the AABC

June 27, 2022 00:44:59
The Black Church Still Speaks on the Future of the AABC
The Black Church Still Speaks
The Black Church Still Speaks on the Future of the AABC

Jun 27 2022 | 00:44:59

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Show Notes

In this episode, Rev. Watts discusses with the General Secretary of The RCA about the AABC and its future. They talk about the importance of the Black church in the reformed denomination and the impact it has had historically and how the need for the AABC to be intricately involved in the shaping of its future. They also discuss the need for new fresh expressions of the church to be planted in the African American/Black context as well.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 What's up everybody. This is Reverend Peter Watts of the black church still speaks podcast. And on our show today, I'm excited because we're getting ready to talk to the general secretary of the oldest Protestant denomination in north America in the RCA. Uh, and his name is Reverend Eddie Oman. I am excited to talk to him about the black church within the context of the RCA. And this is coming off of the heels of general Senate that is just finished last week. And so let's get prepared to hear our general secretary in the RCA, Eddie Ottoman, uh, talk about his reflections on the black church and its impact, uh, it has made and the vision for what he sees, uh, the black church in the, a, B, C in particular, within the RCA, the impact that it can make and contribute to this denomination. Let's tap in to the black church, still speaks with Reverend Eddie Oman. Thank you so much for joining me for, uh, this podcast, uh, today. Uh, we have with us, our general secretary, Reverend Eddie Ottoman, and we are, uh, happy to have him here with us to talk about, uh, the black church, uh, in the RCA. Welcome Eddie. And thank you, Speaker 1 00:01:21 Pete. Thank you so much for, uh, for inviting me to this, uh, to this conversation. I, I really appreciate the opportunity to, to talk about, about the ministry and mission of the, of the, of the African American church in, in the context of the RCA and also in the context of, of the north, north America. So, so thank you for, for this invitation. Speaker 0 00:01:46 Absolutely, absolutely. And so, uh, there are many people who know who you are, uh, that, uh, are listening to this podcast, uh, right now, but then there are those that are listening to the podcast that may not know, uh, anything about you. And so, uh, why don't you just, uh, uh, tell us a little bit about yourself and your ministry and how you got, uh, to the place of being, uh, the general secretary of the oldest Protestant denomination in north America. Speaker 1 00:02:13 Thank you, Pete. Well, my name is, as you said, Eddie Aman. I, I was born in central America, so I was born in Nicaragua. I moved to Canada about, uh, was 1987. So it's about 30 what? 35 years ago. Um, the minister in Canada, you know, met Jesus in Canada, actually, you know, I came as a, as a teenager and, uh, my family were like, uh, uh, a nominal Roman Catholic, a family. So, so actually, if you were to ask my dad or my mom about their faith, they, they will say that they are Roman Catholic, but, but in all honesty, I, I don't remember going to church as a kid. Yeah. I don't remember, you know, reading the Bible as a family. I don't remember, you know, praying or giving thanks to God for the meals as a family. So, so we were actually, you know, a nominal Roman Catholics, um, uh, no faith, you know, we did not read the Bible. Speaker 1 00:03:16 So when I came to Canada back in 1987, I, I met Jesus. You know, my brother was attending a church, a Christian, mostly a Pentecostal church. And that's where I met Jesus. I was baptized and did, did, uh, my initial ministries in the reform church in Canada. So, um, yeah, I did ministry also in California as a church planter, you know, went to seminary and, uh, and actually, you know, I, I, I'm a pastor by, by heart. Um, so did ministry in, in California and the central valley in Fresno, uh, five years in Fresno, five years in LA. So we were neighbors sometime, you know, that's Speaker 0 00:04:02 Right, that's right. Speaker 1 00:04:02 I was there from 20, let me see two 20, 2009 to 2014. I was a pastor at Emmanuel reform. One of the pastors, I, my, my focus was, uh, church planting and, uh, and Hispanic ministries. That's what I did. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> 2014. I, I was invited to, to join, uh, denominational staff to do two things. One was to go to lead the leadership development processes for the reform church and also, uh, to lead the Hispanic ministries of the reform church. So I did that for, you know, from 2014, until 2018 when I was, uh, called to, to be the general secretary. So I have been, I have been in my current position for three and a half, a little more than three and a half years. Okay. I studied July 1st, 2018 and, uh, it's been, it's been, it's been quite a journey for me. I have learned a lot of things and continue to learn. Speaker 0 00:05:05 Yeah. Yeah. That's an incredible, uh, story and journey, uh, of leadership, uh, as you continue to grow, uh, in your, uh, faith and even growing your leadership, uh, development skills. And so it's taking you all the way to yeah. The position of general secretary, and that's an, an, an incredible, uh, story. And so when, um, when we're talking about, uh, the black church, um, within the context of the RCA, uh, uh, right now, um, a lot of times, uh, you said you've been, you've been, you've been, um, leading for almost three and a half years and in your leadership, I know there's been a lot of changes. Um, and a lot of times you get an opportunity to speak, you give, uh, what we call a state of the state. Uh, and so today, uh, can you just give a brief state of the state of the RCA for, for those that might be listening? Like it may never have, um, uh, uh, tapped in or, or just, you know, want to stay updated, uh, as of today, the state of the state of the RCA, um, and where we are moving, uh, as a denomination, I think it's a great opportunity, uh, to express that. Speaker 1 00:06:15 Yeah, no, thank, thank you, Pete. You know, I, um, you know, like, like, uh, the reform church in America, you know, is, um, is, is, um, we are almost 400 years old mm-hmm so, so we are the oldest Protestant denomination in north America. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, so we're older than the United States of America. So, you know, our first church was, was started in 16. So we go back all the way to 16, 20 mm-hmm. So, as you, as you can imagine, and, you know, the context of the, the, the north American church, you know, in the last, you know, last couple decades, you know, about, about the mainline church. So the, the reform church is going through that process also. Yeah. Trying to renew to really re refocus the work on mission refocus, the work of ministry. So I can say that, uh, you know, the last three years since I started, you know, I would say maybe, maybe more than that, even before, before 2018, uh, uh, the reform church in America has been going through some change and difficult conversations and like, like many, like many Protestant denominations in north America, we are going through some, some challenging conversations also. Speaker 1 00:07:37 Yeah. You know, there are some things that we, that we are dealing with, uh, right now, the, the, you know, the impact of, you know, of, of, you know, of the church, you know, the, the, the impact the church needs to make in the, in the 21st century. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, the question of, you know, dealing with, uh, uh, um, you know, the homosexuality, uh, dealing with, uh, um, ministry and all that. So, so that has been, uh, that has been, you know, in the last, you know, couple decades, you know, it's a difficult, difficult conversations. Uh, but also, you know, the, the reality is not only the difficult one, you know, also including, you know, the, the, the, the fact that we continue to deal with the global pandemic, that, that also makes it difficult for mission and ministry, but at the same time, we're seeing, we're seeing data work. Speaker 1 00:08:31 Yeah. And, uh, and one of the, one of the changes that we're seeing, uh, today, and this is, this is really closely related to our conversations this morning is that the reform church in America, uh, is becoming more and more multiethnic. Yeah. And that's, that's a beautiful thing. So, so besides all of the, besides all of the difficult conversations of, of ministry in the north American context right now, uh, the, the, the, one of the biggest changes that, that we're seeing in the, in the RCA is that, that we are more intentionally becoming multiethnic. So, so the, the equipment and the support and empowerment, our racial, ethnic leaders, I think is crucial. You know, I, you know, I've been a, a racial, ethnic leader myself. Uh, this is, uh, this is a really, really important, uh, process for me to support and, and to empower our racial, ethnic leaders, you know, the, the, the, you know, African American leaders are Latino leaders are Asian leaders, mm-hmm <affirmative> and, uh, and native American ministries. Speaker 1 00:09:40 So, so we, we, we are becoming more and more multi-ethnic, you know, our, our background is Dutch. Yes. So we're, we're known by the Dutch reform church. And, uh, and we have been Dutch for a long time. We, and, and it is beautiful. It's great. You know, the, our, our Dutch brothers and sisters, you know, came to north America and started the work of the reform church. And now, uh, uh, in the 21st century, you know, uh, we are reflecting the reality of the north American context. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, having myself, you know, as a Latino, leading this denomination and, uh, and working more intentionally, uh, to support the, the, the racial, ethnic leaders. I think that's, that's, that's the biggest change yeah. That we, that we are, that we'll be seeing that we're seeing in, in the reform church. Speaker 0 00:10:33 Yeah. And that leads me to my next question about the future of the black church, uh, in, uh, the, a ABC with, or, and in the RCA, uh, itself. And, uh, you know, I came on as a coordinator for the, uh, African American black council, um, is probably gonna be two years now, time flies. And, um, and I know being a part of the, a ABC as a, as a pastor and church planter and planting my church, uh, here in LA, um, as part of the ABC, uh, the work, uh, that it takes to, to do that, uh, kind of work, um, and, uh, the leadership, uh, that it takes to, uh, lead, uh, our, uh, African American black churches, uh, within the, uh, ABC. And so when I think about, or when you think about the future, um, and the future possibilities of the black church within the RCA, um, give you a data point. Speaker 0 00:11:27 We have about 35 churches right now, uh, that are part of the, a, B, C, and most of these churches, um, are, uh, churches that are older. Um, and some of the churches don't have pastors. And so, uh, when I came into the role, my first thought was collect data, talk to the people and find out where the, uh, challenges are, where they need help the most. Um, and what I, uh, discovered was that if the ABC doesn't, um, uh, grow younger, um, and start and strengthen more churches, uh, that 35 could, could quickly turn to zero in the next 10 years. And so when you think about the, the, the work that you are doing, uh, as a general secretary and in the changes that are happening within the RCA, uh, becoming more, uh, uh, uh, led by more people, uh, racial, ethnic people, uh, can you kind of tell me, uh, how you envision a future, uh, uh, of the ABC within the RCA, uh, with churches strengthening churches and planting new churches. Speaker 1 00:12:32 Yeah. Thank you. Thank you, Pete. When you, when you came on board a couple years ago, you know, um, uh, I, I, I knew that you were stepping in, in, you know, um, you know, in, to, to, to really help us to envision a different future for the, for, for the black church. You know, I, as you said, you know, the, the, a C uh, has been part of the RCA for, for years since I, I think, you know, the Hispanic council was established in 1974. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I think the ABC was a little before that I'm not, I'm not hundred percent sure. Speaker 0 00:13:15 Yeah. In the sixties, Speaker 1 00:13:16 In the sixties, late sixties, I think because I know the Hispanic was in the mid, mid, mid seventies. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, so the, it is, it is, you know, you know, my hope is to, is to see our younger generation really being involved in, in, in leadership. We need to empower the younger generation for leadership. And, uh, and, and, and my hope, uh, is that, uh, we will have African American leader leaders, you know, pastors and leaders leading multiethnic churches. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I, I, I don't see, you know, the, the, the black church just being the black church. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, I, I see, I see, I see a little more than that. I see multiethnic, you know, the, the representation of, uh, revelation seven, you know, when, when you see people from every nation to worshiping the lamb and, uh, and, and, and, and my dream, my hope and the work that we're doing, uh, is to, to equip at the younger generation, because you are right. Speaker 1 00:14:21 If we, if we don't do that now in the next, in the next 10 years, things will be, will be way, way, you know, will be bad, you know, for, for the church, for the, for the, for the, you know, for the black church in, in the reform church. So, so, so my, my dream, my hope is to empower the younger generation to take leadership. Yeah. And, and to, and to help, you know, the church to, to really see the, the need and importance of having those, those, uh, GNC and those younger, you know, the GNC, uh, uh, to take, to take leadership in, you know, uh, for the future. Just an example. I, uh, when, when in my previous role, when I was a director for leadership development, I did a, a learning community, you know, for leadership with, uh, uh, several, uh, African American churches in their reform church mm-hmm <affirmative>. Speaker 1 00:15:18 And, uh, and, and for the RCA, uh, New York city and, and, and the New York area is where most of our, of our black churches are in black leaders. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, so are and black leaders. So, so I, I organize a, a leadership development learning community for a ABC churches in New York city. And, uh, and I invited about seven or eight of our African American churches to, to go through that process, you know, with me. And, uh, and we had a really good time, uh, connecting and meeting with them. But one day in one of the meetings, uh, there was a, there was a young, uh, a young lady. She was, uh, about 19 years old. She came with her grandma, uh, to that, to that event. And we had a wonderful conversation with her, uh, about, you know, the importance of inviting the younger generation to take leadership, you know, for the church. Speaker 1 00:16:18 And it was a really beautiful opportunity to, to have a conversation with her, you know, in the midst of the, all of the seven churches together. Yeah. And, and I wanted the leaders to hear what this young person needed to say, and it was great, and it was great. I asked them for permission, I said, you know, will you give me permission to allow this young person to say the things that she needs to say mm-hmm <affirmative>. And it was so great that she named, uh, the need of, uh, of being, being empowered. So she talk about, you know, I, I really want to be empowered to lead a, a Sunday school class. Mm. You know, um, and, uh, because, you know, every culture is different. Right. And, and in some culture, so sometime, you know, uh, uh, for the, the, in, in some culture, you know, the young people don't have important things to say mm-hmm <affirmative> and they need to listen. Speaker 1 00:17:11 But for me, it was a, it was a, a good opportunity to challenge, you know, the leaders there. Yeah. And, and we had a great conversation. So, so my hope is, is that, um, you know, the, the, the younger generation will be empowered to take, to take leader leadership. And, and I like to see, you know, all of our churches in the reform church in America to really represent the kingdom of God, you know, people from every nation tongue, uh, being worshiping, worshiping the Lord together, and like to see some African American leaders, you know, being the leaders of multiethnic churches, Speaker 0 00:17:49 You, you bring up two things, one the multiethnic, uh, leading multiethnic churches, and, uh, two, uh, this, uh, the, the younger generation millennials, gen Z. And so, uh, with, with the generation piece, one of the things I I find is that, uh, no matter whatever racial ethnic group it is, uh, young people are just despondent with the church, whether it's, uh, uh, young white millennials, gen Zs, whether it's African American, Latino, Asian, they're, they're just despondent, uh, with the church. And so just in general, how, how can churches, uh, pastors that are listening, uh, right now to you, how can, how can churches make room for young people to then step in, um, to express their gifts? Um, and how can the church come alongside those young people, uh, to support them in, in expressing those gifts so that there isn't this big golfing gap, uh, so that, you know, at the end of a church's life, uh, it's not scrambling around trying to find young people because they didn't develop 'em along the way. Speaker 1 00:18:53 Exactly. Thank you. Thank that's a great question, Pete. I, uh, you know, in my, in my literacy development classes, I always say, how do you, how do you develop a leader? And that's an important question. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so how do you develop a leader? So if we want to see younger people, you know, taking leadership, we really need to empower, and we need to be intentional in developing leaders. But the question is, how, how do you do that? How do you develop a leader? And, and I, I used to teach the 10, 20, 70 principle, you know, 10, 20, 70, Speaker 0 00:19:32 All right, y'all listen here. He's about to drop a nugget. <laugh> Speaker 1 00:19:37 So, so I used to say, you know, with, with churches and pastor, and I'm a pastor myself, you know, I'm a, I'm a church planter myself, you know, I, I, I really love to develop leaders, you know? So in, in my church, I, I did two things. One, I preached the gospel and I developed leaders mm-hmm <affirmative> and then everybody else did everything else that the church that the church needed mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, for example, you know, pastor calling visitation, I had a team doing all of that. So I, I focused on two things. One, I preached the gospel because I am the, I was the main pastor of church. And secondly, I invested time in the equipment leader. So I did those two things. So, so the <affirmative> two things. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, so the question about how do you, how do you develop a leader, especially a young leader? Speaker 1 00:20:22 Well, the, the, this, the, the, the 10, 20, 70 principle, so 10% of developing a leader, it's about resources. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so it's about a book, a class, but that's just a 10%. Yeah. You know, of, of the whole work of developing a leader, some churches, they don't do anything else. They just have, there is a class for leadership development. There is a book read this book, and they think that that's done, right. You develop a leader, we just, we just inviting a leader to a class or, or just, you know, uh, um, inviting a leader to hear a podcast. Like the one that we're, that we're, that we're working on today is, you know, all of these are really, all of these resources are really important, you know, podcast and books and mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and webinars. And all of those are amazing are great. Please continue to do those. Speaker 1 00:21:17 And, and we're doing this because we believe that this is important, but this is just the 10% of developing a leader. Yeah. So then they, then you added the other 20%. So, so 10% is resources. Mm-hmm <affirmative> 20% is, you know, uh, um, encouragement coaching. So you walk alongside somebody, you, you not only invite this person to read a book or to, you know, to listen to a podcast or to attend a webinar, but you start walking alongside this. This is discipleship. Yeah. You know, uh, uh, inviting those young leaders in inviting those people to, you know, to, to our relationship, relationships are really crucial. Yeah. Why young people, you know, are leav the church and, and you're a right. P this is not only the, African-American not only white kids. It's not only Latino kids. Most of the kids leave the church because, you know, nobody's walk, nobody's paying attention to them. Speaker 1 00:22:19 Right. It's like, they have nothing. It's like, it's like they have nothing to offer. Right. Uh, but, but we have to really be intentional. So, so the 20% of developing a leader has to be with coaching empowerment, listening to them, you know, being with them, you know, uh, uh, being, being interested in what's what's happening in their lives. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, so that's a, that's a 20%. And then the big chunk, the 70% of the other, this is the, this is the, the 10, 20, 70%. Yeah. The big chance is, uh, to give young people opportunities to lead mm-hmm <affirmative>. So we need to ask the question, what kind of opportunities are we giving our young people to take leadership? Mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, do we believe that a young leader can be an elder in the church? Right. You know, it's like sometimes when, when, when we think of elder, you know, uh, we think of people that are like me, you know? Yeah. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:23:21 Like we think the word elder means old. Speaker 1 00:23:23 Exactly. Which elder means old. So, so you, you will find very few deacons in the church that are in the, in their teens. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it'd be amazing to have a deacon that is 19 years old. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it'll be great to have to see how this deacon will think about, you know, the deacons, usually in church help with, you know, the, the, the, the needs and, and finance. It'd be amazing to have to have a 19 year old deacon, you know, make the call on how we're going to support those people in need in the congregation. Speaker 0 00:23:59 You know, that's a, and I'm sorry to interrupt you, but it just made me think, you know, deacons, you know, a role of a deacon is to meet the needs of, of those that are, uh, in the church with, you know, care and, you know, things like that. And, and one of the things that in the research that they found was that young people have left the church because they felt like the church was not meeting the needs in the community. Uh, and so if young people had an opportunity to be a deacon and to serve in that role of meeting needs, it might even like, uh, again, meet that, that, that itch that they have for justice work around feeding the hungry and being amongst the homeless and doing, you know, voter education, right. Are, are just meeting practical needs of people that are in need in the community and in the church. Speaker 1 00:24:45 Exactly. And, and you'll be surprised to see, you know, young deacons making that call mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and, and our job is, you know, and, and maybe they will come with ideas that are like crazy. We never done that. Right. But that's a good opportunity to empower. This is what I call the opportunities to lead. Speaker 0 00:25:05 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:25:05 You know, kids, you know, and young people say, why, why do I wanna be part of a church where I, they just see me, you know, as part of the youth group, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, I need a bigger challenge than that. I need to be, you know, I need to be part of the center, you know, of the work of the church mm-hmm <affirmative> and the work of the, of the ministry. And you'll be surprised to see the, the ideas of, of young, of young people, you know, when, when they are empowered and, and, and, and, you know, uh, uh, uh, supported to, to, to take the leadership, you know, having young elders, you know, deciding, you know, the, the future of the church, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that's amazing to see, to see a, a young person elder doesn't mean that everybody need to have a white hair, you know, right. Or, or be grandpa or grandma. Yeah. Uh, we, you know, I, we celebrate the work of, of, of those people that like, like, like me, you know, that have been around and in ministry, praise the Lord, but also we need to pay attention to those, to those, uh, to the, to the younger generation. Speaker 0 00:26:12 Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's so crazy because within the context and the history of the black church, uh, young people, uh, during the civil rights movement were the ones who were leading, you know, those movements and, and organizing, you know, around different things, uh, during that time. So even Dr. King, when he first stepped on the scene, he was 20, like 23, 25 years old leading, um, exactly. When you look at a lot of the, um, the marches and the, uh, the sit-ins and things like that, those were, those were middle school and high school kids, uh, that were, uh, leading, uh, these movements. And so, uh, it seems to me, if we, if we would just look back at, uh, what has been, it could inform of what could be, uh, you know, for the future, especially within the context of, of the black church. And so, um, so 10, 20, 10 resources, 20 coaching and relationship, 70 opportunities to lead that that's a nugget. We can end the podcast now. Right. <laugh> that was a nugget that was a nugget Speaker 1 00:27:24 As a pastor. I always have that in my mind. So, yeah. Yeah. The question is what kinda opportunities of, to, for leadership I'm, I'm giving young people that's right. And we have to be, we have to be willing to, you know, uh, uh, to, to see them fail in some areas mm-hmm <affirmative> so, so failure is not fatal, you know, failures are opportunities to, to grow for growth. Speaker 0 00:27:49 That's Speaker 1 00:27:49 Right. And it's fake, you know, in, in leadership, you know, how many mistakes have we made in, in, in our life. Right. If I count in my own mistakes, he's like, okay, this is just, this is just normal. This is part of the process of Speaker 0 00:28:02 Life, the process. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:28:03 Part of the process of life. So we shouldn't be too afraid about that, but, but those, those opportunities for leadership, like, like what you are mentioning, uh, you know, with, with Dr. King and, and many of those young leaders that really made a huge impact, you know, in, in, in, in, in life and in the history. So I, I, I think, uh, uh, this is the opportunity that, that we need to give to young people. So, so, so my hope, you know, for the, for the church and for the black church, in, in the reform church, in America, that we will come to that point to see younger, you know, the, the younger generation taking, taking the lead. Yeah. Think that that be great. Speaker 0 00:28:51 Couple of months ago, uh, you had an opportunity to establish a new office, um, in this office is called the office of advocacy and race relations. Um, and you see it as an important, uh, as an important aspect, uh, of your office, uh, of doing the work in the RCA. Can you, can you, uh, tell us, uh, about why that office was established and why you think it's so important, um, and how it could, uh, even have an impact in the work that we do with, uh, black churches and racial, ethnic churches, um, in the future. Speaker 1 00:29:28 Yeah, exactly. Thank you. Thank you for, for, for naming that, Pete. Um, you know, we have always say, and, and, and when I say we I'm, I'm, I'm referring to the church in America, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, we have been, we have always say that, uh, we want to become a denomination freedom from racism, you know, our general Sy statements. You can, you can see some of the general Sy statements, even, even before I became general secretary. Yeah. I, I became general secretary only three and a half years ago, but, but we have been saying this for decades. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Um, but we did not have, uh, a specific office to really help us do that. Yeah. You know, because, you know, we, we can say a lot of things, you know, and, and we can write a lot of statements, but I, I, I think intentionality is important. Speaker 1 00:30:25 You have to be intentional about the things that you really want to see. So, so we did not have a, a, a specific O office working, you know, in that direction. And, uh, and, and for me, it's important, again, I'm a racial, ethnic leader myself. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so, so, so for me, you know, um, becoming a, a denomination free from racism is a high priority. Yeah. It is. It is, it is really important. And also given the, the reality that we're seeing also in, in, in the us, especially, you know, with those racial tensions. Uh, um, so, so it was, it was, it was the time for us to really do that, to really help the church. And when I say help the church, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm saying, you know, help the reform church in America. Mm-hmm, <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative> congregations to really pay attention to, to the importance, you know, of, of, of the, of, of racial reconciliation. Speaker 1 00:31:29 Yes. So I, I see, you know, the black church in the RCA, helping us, helping all of the churches in the reform church to really pay attention to, to that, because, you know, you know, the, the, the racial tensions are a reality mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, and, um, and when we talk about becoming a, a denomination free, free from racism, I think we need to be intentional about, about that. Yeah. So, so that's why I, I, you know, I, I invited, you know, you, and some of other leaders to really help us, uh, with that and, and help us to take the lead on, on this, because, you know, um, you know, racial tensions are a reality in, in the us. And, and, and even though we're, we are a binational denomination, you know, we have churches in Canada, uh, in the us, uh, the, the, the United state context it's, um, is where we, most of our churches are. Speaker 1 00:32:29 Right. And it's where most of, of these racial tensions happen. So, so my, my dream, my prayer, my hope is that we will actually become, uh, a denomination that is free from racism. That's, that's my hope. We have a long way to ways to go. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, and, um, in this office, my, my prayer and my hope is that this office will, will help us to get, to get where we need to go. So it's still, still, you know, we have to, you know, we have to work hard, right. Uh, but we, we have to be intentional. So, so the, the, the, the, the fact that I, I invited, you know, to, to, to, to, to get this office in place, you know, to, to do, um, to, to, to help us, you know, in that area, I think, I think that's, that's important. And, and, uh, and, and, and I pray, you know, my prayer is that we will actually become a ation prayer for racism. Speaker 0 00:33:26 Yeah, that's good. That's good. As we think about, uh, the churches, uh, within the RCA, the black churches in the RCA that need to be strengthened, uh, and then churches that we want to birth that are new. Um, the dynamics of the communities that most of the churches are in are multi-ethnic communities, and most of them are black and brown communities. Uh, and so how, how can, what, what are some advice you can give to young leaders, to current leaders that want to plant or birth new churches, and those that, um, are already have an established church and trying to figure out how to pivot and, you know, reimagine itself, uh, post COVID, um, in the context of a, of a diverse community, what would be some advice for, for those, uh, African American black leaders to begin, uh, even thinking towards multiethnic, uh, church, whether it's multiethnic church planting or, uh, or, or their current church becoming more OT and reflecting the neighborhood in which they're, they're in, Speaker 1 00:34:35 That's a great question, Pete. You know, when I was a pastor in LA, I was, um, you know, I, I, I, I work, I did ministry with a team of pastors, so we had a, I was not the senior pastor mm-hmm <affirmative>. I was the pastor of church planting and Hispanic ministries. So that was, that was the focus of my work. Yeah. Uh, church planting and Hispanic ministries. And, uh, and we, we planted churches, you know, from, uh, paramount California looking into, into Los Angeles. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, so we were focusing on the city, on the city of LA mm-hmm <affirmative> and, um, and, and, and our church was a, a multiethnic church. So we had, uh, five services in English. We have two services in Spanish and one in Nepali. So every Sunday we have, uh, a little over 2000 people coming to church mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, and, and because, you know, we were in the city, so we didn't have a, a huge mega space so that everybody could be together. Yeah. But, but we have one, one of the services was led by our African African American pastor. And, uh, and Speaker 0 00:35:55 Would that be Larry dove, pastor? Larry do. Speaker 1 00:35:57 Yeah. Larry, Larry dove was, was leading the, the, the, the no service and the no service was, was a multiethnic service. So we had African Americans, we have Asians, we have mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, Latinos, we have, uh, Caucasian people coming to that, to that service. We had, it was an urban gospel kind of worship. It was, it was amazing to see, to see that. Uh, and, and, and, uh, and Larry did a, did a really good job. I think that, um, you know, an advice would be to be intentional mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, so the, the work of the gospel really needs to take precedence rather than, uh, uh, to be a, a, an, an ethnicity mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, so we were intentional about inviting and, and people from, from every, every nation, you know, the, the, the worship team intentionally included people that look different. Speaker 1 00:37:01 Yep. Uh, um, so, so, so I would say that intentionality is important, you know, uh, for, for the leaders, you know, again, you know, the empowerment that I was talking about before me, I think that's, that's, that's a really key for the, for the, for the, you know, for the future. Yeah. And, and my, my, you know, my goal, my hope is that, uh, uh, we will see some, some of our, you know, many, if not all of our, you know, African American churches to really, you know, do an important work in, in, in their communities. Yeah. Because I, I agree with you, you know, uh, uh, the communities, you will not find, uh, uh, just black community mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, you, you find people from different, different ethnicities mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, uh, being there. So, so, so, so the church of Jesus Christ needs to be, you know, for everyone in the community. Yeah. And that's, that's, that's, that's, that's all need to, we need to focus on as we continue to do ministry together. Speaker 0 00:38:06 All right. So, uh, as we, uh, get ready to end I'm, I, I'm starting to end my podcast with recommendations. And so, uh, what books, what book are you reading? Uh, what are you watching and what do you do to, to rest? Those are the last three questions, a, a, a book, what is a book you would recommend for, for a leader, um, uh, or, or what is a book that you're currently reading? I know you're in school, so it's probably like a thousand books. <laugh>, uh, what are you currently watching and how do you, how do you rest? Speaker 1 00:38:42 That's great. So I can recommend a lot of books for my, you know, for my PhD studies, but they will not be too fun, you know, <laugh>, I'm writing on inter textuality, so, but I, I will not go there. Okay. But there's a book that I I'm reading with my leaders. And, and I think that's, that's really important. This is a book with my team, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative> the, the people that are close to me. Yeah. And, uh, and it, it's a great book by, by Ruth Barton. Mm-hmm <affirmative> is name strengthening the soul of your leadership. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> strengthening the soul of your leadership. And, and I think this, this, this resource is so important because, you know, so, so many times leaders, you know, are focused on, on the things that they need to do. They are focused on strategies, their goals, and they spend time, you know, doing that. Speaker 1 00:39:38 And many times, you know, we forget the importance of our soul mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, so, so I, I, I would say, you know, strengthening the soul of your leadership. I think that will be an important resource for any leader. I am reading that right now with my, you know, with my leadership team. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, um, and Ruth Haley Barton. She is great. Yeah. She talks about that. The other question that you asked Pete, what am I doing, you know, for my soul mm-hmm <affirmative>, um, you know, I am intentionally taking what I call focus days, you know, in the month mm-hmm <affirmative> so we have, we have four weeks in the month, so I, I try to take at least one focus day a week. Yeah. So the fo focus day are those things that I said, okay, I have a lot of things to do. Speaker 1 00:40:33 I, I have a lot of emails to respond. I have a, a lot of things that I need to, you know, to work on mm-hmm <affirmative>, but I just need one day to focus. Yeah. Focus on my soul, focus on hearing the voice of the spirit, because so many times, you know, you can be busy, busy, busy doing a lot of things, and you end up doing things that this holy spirit is not asking you to do. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. So, so this focus days, uh, for me, uh, uh, have been really, really important, um, you know, a year ago, I, I used to go to a retreat center mm-hmm <affirmative>, uh, I cannot do that anymore. Regularly. I try to do that every quarter mm-hmm <affirmative>, but these focus days are, are, are days that I said, okay, I have a lot of things to do, but I, I'm not gonna focus on that. Speaker 1 00:41:28 Yep. I'm gonna focus on, you know, on my soul. I want to hear the voice of the spirit. I want to, I want to hear the voice of God, you know, I, as you said, you know, in my, in my studies I'm, I'm, I'm writing a dissertation on the gospel, John mm-hmm <affirmative>, but, but I, those focus days are, are the days that I, I don't focus on that. Yeah. Yeah. I don't do any writing. I don't do. I just, I just wanna be close with the spirit. Yeah. Um, and, uh, so I, I would encourage you and, and, and your listeners, you know, to really, to really think about that. Yeah. Um, so to really think about those, those days that are, that are really important, where you put a pause to everything you're doing and, and say, you know, at least a half a day, if you can do that, you know, one afternoon or one morning, I, I try to do a full day because that, that, that really, I cannot do that every week, but at least I try to do twice a month. Yeah. You know, for those, those focus days. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:42:37 Well, thank you so much, uh, for, uh, your time and your wisdom, uh, in sharing, uh, just insight and in your, uh, thoughts towards, uh, the black church, um, within north America and specifically, uh, within the RCA, uh, this is our general secretary, Reverend Eddie Aman. Speaker 1 00:42:57 Thanks a lot, Pete, for, for this, uh, for inviting me to have this conversation, I continue to pray for our African American leaders in the RCA. We have an awesome group of, of, of leaders. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> leading the way. And I'm so, so glad that, uh, that, that you guys are really proud of the, of these movements. And, and, and thank you for, thank you for what you're doing with, with church. Speaker 0 00:43:22 Thank you. This is the black church still speaks. Speaker 0 00:43:30 Hey, fam, we're excited that you were able to listen to our general secretary, Reverend Eddie Allman on the black church still speaks podcast. My name is Reverend Peter Watts, and I am happy to have been your host for the black church. Still speaks as we wrap up our second season, can you believe it? Our second season of the black church still speaks. And so we are excited about what God is doing with this podcast and its reach. We're excited about all of the guests that have been a part of the work that we've been doing around focusing and centering the voices of black people within the RCA and abroad. Uh, and we are looking forward to next season as we get more into reformed theology in the black church. And so join us next season in the fall, as we launch and start again, our podcast of the black church still speaks. I want to thank our executive producer, uh, and our music and podcast engineer. I want to thank all of you who support and listen to our podcasts every month. Again, my name is Reverend Peter Watts. I am your host of the black church, still speaks podcasts, and we'll see you next season. Peace, Speaker 4 00:44:51 Peace.

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