We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:4)
Most Anglicans, especially those of us of color, are not native to this tradition. Thus, we have had at least two profound encounters with God. He first sought us in the churches of our youth. Church mothers, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and pastors implored us to be reconciled to God. We listened. But the spiritual life is long and the walk with God sometimes carries us to unexpected destinations. At some point in our journeys, we encountered the prayers, liturgies, saints, and traditions of Anglicanism. In this particular manifestation of the church catholic, we found a home in which we might live a life of faithfulness to our king.
But that is a description of church in the abstract; we live in a church made flesh. We came into the Anglican tradition at a time of a church divided. We do not speak of the ecclesial divisions that mar our lives on this side of the reformation. Instead, we speak of the vision that motivated Paul to leave the comforts of his culture to preach the gospel to the varied ethnicities of the Roman empire. We have in mind the eschatological vision that closes the apocalypse of John. There John speaks about a multiplicity of ethnicities and languages gathered around the throne of the Messiah united in their adoration of their savior. We speak of Jesus’s own command that we might be his witnesses to the end of the earth. But when we look upon our Anglican churches too often this catholicity of ethnicities, that itself testifies to the universal saving power of the gospel, is in short supply. We rejoice in the diversity of the global Anglican communion, but we also recognize that in the towns and cities of North America Black, White, Latino, and Asian folks are being reconciled to God. Our hearts desire is that they might find a home in our churches.
But there is a further division of the church made flesh. The concerns for justice that have long marked many of the ethnic churches in our country have been dismissed either as a manifestation of liberalism or naivete. But for us it is precisely our belief in the God revealed to us in the Scriptures that compels us to speak publicly and explicitly about the injustice that plagues our culture. We believe that reconciliation, evangelism, and truth telling cannot be separated. For this reason, we often find ourselves looked upon with suspicion or worry. Despite the potential for misunderstanding, we press on because the love of Christ compels us to picture a multi-ethnic Anglicanism that contends for justice in North America because of the Scriptures, not in opposition to them. Our hope, then, is to present and embody a vision of Anglicanism known for its biblical faithfulness both in evangelical proclamation and in contesting for a more just society. What God has joined together (justice and biblical faithfulness) let no person tear asunder.
We then are a coalition of the willing –Black, White, Latino, and Asian– who through our shared writing, ministry, and friendship bear witness to what we believe to be God’s desire for his people. That is a life together that anticipates his coming Kingdom.
What can you expect in this space? Variety. We are influenced by our experiences and backgrounds. Therefore, those experiences will shape our writing. But this is not a site devoted to a daily exploration of racial reconciliation. I am black, and life in this black flesh colors how I see the world. But I am also a believer, husband, father, friend, son, and brother. I support God’s team the New England Patriots and Lebron James. I am free in Christ to speak about all these experiences as are the rest of our writers (except Eagles fans and Warriors fans. They are banned).
This will be a site, then, that gathers the experiences of folks committed to the proclamation of a wholistic gospel as they attempt to live faithfully in divided church and culture. We hope to point toward a better way and do our small part to help our church better embody God’s desire that Christians of all ethnicities might live and worship together. You can expect book and movie reviews, political and pop culture commentary from a Christian perspective, reflections on parenting, singleness, pastoral and lay ministry. We are largely Anglican so expect that shared tradition to inform our perspective and choice of topics.
We are also writers under authority. We aim to adhere to the confessional statements and doctrinal commitments of our church. But in other matters we are free. We might not always agree, but that is fine. Healthy families are not ones that have absolute uniformity. They are those who even when they disagree, they do so with love. Watch this space.
Esau McCaulley is the Executive director of the Anglican Multi-ethnic Network (A.M.E.N) and Executive Editor of its blog: The Coalition. He serves as assistant professor of New Testament at Northeastern Seminary in Rochester, New York. He is also one of the organizers of the Call and Response conference, an event examining the future of black Christians in America.