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GAINS & GLEANINGS | Unfairly stained: Declarations should be built on more than assumption

By J. Hogan


One of the reasons I can’t stand the cavalier use of cries of racism when something doesn’t go a person’s way is because it can serve as an easy excuse to stay in low circumstances instead of going after more in life.


That, however, is a social matter, a broad issue that, in some places, doesn’t serve the community well and limits advancement and gains.


Some cities, like Detroit, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Orlando, have much less of this because there are so many examples all around of people of all ilks chasing their goals and achieving the life they’re after.


Now, the main reason I can’t stand the flippant or default use of cries of racism is because it makes a horrible accusation against someone when they aren’t deserving of it.


That’s personal, and damaging.


I won’t waste your time or mine going over all the times I’ve had that accusation lobbed at me before the person making the accusation knows who I am at all. Once they find it, it’s a difficult argument to try to build, and fails on its face.


I do want to share about one of my young ministers, Norman.


Norman is learning. I give him a lot of room to make mistakes, because that’s part of how we learn, and we intend to help Norman plant a new church sometime after January of 2025.

At one point Norman had asked a Black member of the church to participate in a weekday worship service Norman had started.


The person agreed, but immediately took liberties with the role in ways that were flagged by members in attendance as errant. That meant some correction was needed.


I tasked Norman with handling the correction, partly because he had asked our friend into the role, but mostly because correcting such is part of the necessary development for Norman to one day be the lead pastor of a church.


When they spoke, it did not go well. Norman and the church were accused of racism for curtailing the liberties being taken with the role, and the member refused to do the role unless they could continue to do it as they had chosen to.


That wasn’t tenable. The church has a responsibility to ensure that what is said from the pulpit is biblically sound, and much of what our friend was sharing was of the common sense, Confucius proverb ilk of wisdom.


Not bad stuff… but not biblical, and the folks in the crowd had taken note of it.


The person decided to leave the church and we started getting reports that others in the church were being contacted with the allegation that Norman was racist, along with the rest of church leadership – which is odd, because the Elder Advisory Board and our deaconing crew is mixed race just like Faithbridge as a whole.


Most folks let the accusation roll off their back, and as they say, the proof is in the pudding… and our pudding is anything but monochromatic.


But the personal nature of the allegation toward Norman is more the point here. These allegations, when undeserved, are brutally unfair.


Now, Norman doesn’t talk much about this, but he only has one kidney.


The reason he only has one kidney was because at Norman’s former church in Michigan – a church that others would think of as a “black church” due to overwhelming demographics – Norman had donated one of his kidneys to a young black man who was in final stage kidney failure.


The reason Faithbridge is waiting until after January of 2025 to get Norman’s new church plant started is because he and his family are traveling to Burundi, Africa to meet two children they are adopting.

They would already have done so but that the adoption agency requires that both parents be at least 30 years old, and they’re waiting for his wife to reach that special milestone.

It’s not a cheap process.


Aside from paying for the trip and a long stay in Africa to learn some cultural matters to help with acclimation, the agency charges 6 figures per child for the process.


I don’t say these things to brag about our young minister, although I am proud of him and all the work he does for us.


I say these things because Norman didn’t deserve to be painted with the brush of racism.


It’s a cruel thing to love others to the point that you give a vital organ to save someone else’s life only to be accused by folks unaware of the facts of hatred toward folks for whom you’ve gone an over-the-top extra mile to show genuine love.


That accusation, like other severe accusations, has a staining power in the minds of some, and when it is wielded without merit the injustice is staggering.


Of course, when one does a good thing out of love for others, the Bible admonishes us to keep it between ourselves and God, so Norman never rose up and declared all the things he’s done that refute the charge.


I’m refuting it here, and asking that we all be careful with ugly accusations…folks shouldn’t have to overcome things we’ve said wrongly, and declarations should be built on more than a mere moment of assumption.


Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.


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