Dr. Michael O. Emerson, a professor of Sociology and former co-director of the Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, recently discussed race and racism in America and Christianity from a sociological perspective with A.R. Bernard on ARB TV.
During the interview, Bernard opined that integration in ministry cannot be forced because ministry is contextual. He further suggested the possibility of the creation of a curriculum that is sensitive to the African American experience.
Emerson agreed with Bernard and noted how such a curriculum could be beneficial to churches.
“When we attend separate congregations, we, over time, develop separate cultures and separate worlds, which makes it difficult for us to come together,” Emerson stated. “Sharing a common curriculum [and] coming together for a common service to a community — all of these things can help build a more common culture within inner faith groups even if we’re not in the same congregation.”
Emerson, who teaches at the University of Illinois Chicago, expressed concern about the gun violence prevalent in his area. He believes that part of the solution requires the collective worship of people from different racial and ethnic groups.
“Trouble comes when we are divided, and anything that is a plan of division will lead to more problems. So if we are not divided in the most transcendent fundamental important aspect of our lives, [which is] our faith–if we’re busy doing life together in small groups, culture, developing ways of worship and serving the community, then what does this do? This creates bonds of trust,” he said.
The sociologist also stated how he believes communication breaks barriers for different ethnic groups to come together.
“The hope is if we can actually talk and learn about the different struggles we’re having and the different problems we’re having, we can come together and pull our resources to overcome it and make structure change.”
To watch the full interview, head over to ARB TV.