Last night at our small group meeting, six of us (all white, all in our 40s or older) spent an hour talking about the Confederate flag and monuments, white privilege and systematic racism and what the Bible says about racism.

We concluded that racism grieves God and we as Christians are to do the loving thing towards others, even when that means laying aside some of our personal liberties. For the most part we agreed, and no one got mad. Near the end of the evening, though, a question was introduced to the discussion, one I’ve heard several times in the last few weeks, a question I have asked myself.

My friend said, “All of these things we’ve been talking about are good. I think we all agree that racism is an awful sin that God hates. But what now? What am I, what are we, supposed to do next?”

That’s the question of the month for me, as well as for many others who hate racism, who oppose racial injustice but who aren’t sure what steps we are to take to help it.

I am often all talk. Before you condemn me for that, let me explain what I mean. What I mean is that I spend most of my time talking- you would even be right to say I make my living talking. I preach. I teach. I talk to folks about Jesus. I counsel couples who are falling apart. I give advice to folks who have tough decisions to make. I lead meetings, I give updates, I am often the last one talking in the parking lot after the morning service.

Sometimes, my talking is verbal. Other times I talk by typing my weekly article on my laptop or by engaging in a text conversation on my phone or by making Facebook posts on either. What I’m saying is I pretty much talk all the time.

That doesn’t mean I don’t do helpful things in other ways. That doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes give to causes I support. That doesn’t mean I don’t read and pray and do other things all Christians should be doing (although, praying is talking too!). I just mean I’m not a protest guy. I am not saying protests don’t sometimes help, but I don’t participate in protests. Never have. Most of you know that the cause I speak out about most is the issue of abortion (I’m against it), but I have not been to a protest or a march. Not even once.

I did march in Staunton with some other church leaders a couple years ago after the Charlottesville debacle. I felt that was a good way to show unity and to bring attention to the ugliness of racism, though, I’m not sure that anyone really watched us or that we made any real difference that day.

I tried to be part of a racial reconciliation group in Waynesboro during that same time, but it was made clear to me by one of the more vocal participants of the group that my input was not welcomed, if I kept insisting that racial reconciliation can only happen through Jesus. That ended that.

And that talking I just mentioned? I do talk against racism and racial injustice often, sometimes from the pulpit, sometimes during Bible study, sometimes on Facebook and sometimes at small group like last night. For a preacher in a small, nearly all-white town of a couple thousand, I’d guess that I talk about it more than most, to be honest.

Even so, I still ask along with my brother and many other white Christians, “What next?” What more can I do? I don’t ask so that I can come up with an excuse. I don’t ask to be a smart alec. I don’t ask for any other reason than I really want to know, and I think many others want to know as well. The truth is that most of us are much closer in our convictions about race than the media wants us to think. Most of us would admit that things are better than they used to be, but that we still have a long way to go. Most of us want to make a difference.

So, I welcome you to respond, either on The News Virginian Facebook page or by emailing me at newcreationmark@gmail. com. What is it that we can do, what is it that I can do next? Thank you in advance for your helpful answers.

Mark Wingfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Grottoes, is a columnist for The News Virginian. His column is published Sundays.

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