Biblical unity in diversity is a core value at College Park Church.
Over the last five years, we’ve witnessed a beautiful growth in our ethnic diversity. Our journey is far from over. We’ve not arrived. But we see God at work – uniting our church across racial lines as we learn to creatively live out the perfect unity that Christ has already won for us through the cross.
This weekend I’ll lead a group of 50 leaders on our first Civil Rights Vision Trip. It is a pilgrimage – a trip with intentional and spiritual objectives. Our journey will include:
Montgomery, AL: The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (known as the Lynching Museum)
Selma, AL: Walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Clarksdale, MS: Coahoma Community College (One of the Historic Black Colleges and Universities)
Greenwood, MS: Worship at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church
Memphis, TN: National Civil Rights Museum and Lorriane Motel
Each of these sites played an important role in the history of Civil Rights in our country. But this trip is much more than a historical tour. We have bigger goals in mind.
Since this is our first Vision Trip / Pilgrimage, our pastors nominated the participants. People from all walks of life, different ages, unique experiences, and different ethnicities are a part of this journey. We are hoping that this experience changes us and our church. Here are our four goals:
Love: We want new friendships to develop that last beyond this trip. We are asking the Lord to deepen our affection for one another through this experience.
Learn: Last Sunday was the 55th anniversary of the church bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church where four young girls were killed. We want to understand these painful moments, and how they shaped the history of our country. We want to fill in the gaps of our knowledge and deepen our understanding of the background behind ethnic tension.
Lament: Our trip, at times, will be painful. We plan to lament together – talking to God together about what we see and feel. We will listen to each other, while uniting our hearts under the blood-bought banner of Jesus.
Leverage: We hope to be changed so that can help our church continue to grow in biblical unity in diversity. We hope to model empathy, reconciliation, and our gospel union in Christ.
We dream of this kind of trip on a regular basis – maybe annually or bi-annually. This year is a pilot – a step of faith. I’m praying that we’ll learn new applications of what Paul talks about in Colossians 3:11.
“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11).
Our common love for Jesus and our oneness in the gospel set the stage for this experience. We are praying that God allows the fruit of redemption to create a beautiful and deep unity.
John Perkins, in his book One Blood, says that the church has a critical role to play:
“There is no institution on earth more equipped and capable of bringing transformation to cause of reconciliation than the Church.” (p. 63)
We not only believe he’s right; we are working to see it happen. Our unity in the gospel lead us to a practical unity across the ethnic divide.
If you care to follow our journey, I’ll be posting updates on Twitter (@MarkVroegop).
And if you think about it, pray for us. Ask the Lord to make this a historic trip that changes us and our church. Pray that we get a foretaste of the New Heavens and the New Earth in our oneness and unity.