The Love Required of Us – eBook Edition


The purpose of this handbook is to guide groups of racially diverse people in discussions of race and racial reconciliation within a Christian context. It’s important that everyone comes to the table; this is more than just a black/white issue. We are all impacted by race. It is on our birth certificates and on our death certificates and most government forms from the cradle to the grave. 

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In addition to that stated purpose of the book, each section contains information interspersed with discussion questions. A spiritual practice is also incorporated into each section, along with a follow-up and journaling pages to help build self-awareness. My hope is that as groups journey together and come to a fuller understanding of race and racism in our society, we will all be able to hear each other’s stories and to heal. This is ultimately how communities based on authentic relationships will grow. 

The eight sessions are presented as follows. 

Session 1: Ears to Hear 

This session is about inviting the Holy Spirit into the process as groups prayerfully get to know each other, hear each other’s stories, and create a safe place for honest discussions. It is adapted from an exercise done by Nina Lau-Branson and Kristy Hinds. 

Session 2: Eyes to See 

Pastor Albert Tate’s sermon provides the foundation for setting aside political and racial differences so that we can see the Imago Dei in each other. Matthew 22:3739, Mark 12:3031, and Luke 10:2537 are in focus, along with recognizing the call to love as Jesus loves.  

Session 3: Defining Racism and Its History  Lament 

Racism is defined as “race prejudice plus the misuse of power by systems and institutions.”  Each word is broken down and discussed to provide a common language. The origins of racism in the U.S. are also addressed. Lament is incorporated as a first step toward reconciliation. 

Session 4: The History of Racism in the Church – Confession 

In the Americas, the history of racism in the church began with Christopher Columbus. Just as when Martin Luther King Jr. first said it, “The 11:00 hour on Sunday is [still] the most segregated hour of the week.” Session 4 explores why, and it looks at the history of the Free Methodist Church. Confession is incorporated as the next step toward reconciliation 

Session 5: Racial Socialization and Internalization – Repentance 

Socialization greatly impacts our thinking, which can be implicit (emotion or sense-based) or explicit (analytical). To create awareness, we discuss examples of how biases become internalized. True healing and reconciliation require truth and repentance. We repent of these biases by calling them out, committing to change, and turning to God. 

Session 6: Advantage and Trauma – Forgiveness 

The often-misunderstood concept of white advantage is explained, along with the distorted images of self that result. We address the moral trauma that white people experience once they understand this idea and the truth of racism’s hold over all of us. Finally, we take an in-depth look at forgiveness, what it means to seek it earnestly, and what it means truly to forgive. 

Session 7: Disparities in Outcomes Across All Systems  Justice and Mercy 

There are gross disparities in outcomes for white people versus people of color as they interact with various institutions and systems (e.g., in housing, banking, education, health care, and law enforcement). Socioeconomic status does not explain why. A deeper dive into law enforcement illustrates that the causes are found in the history of the systems themselves. Isaiah 58, Amos 5, and Micah 6:8 illustrate how God expects us to embody justice and mercy. In the New Testament, Jesus declares in Luke 4 that He has come to set the oppressed free. 

Session 8: Moving Forward  Reconciliation, Prayer, and Love 

Reconciliation, as defined by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil and Dr. John Perkins, ties into how we move forward. Heroes in the church who stood up to racial injustice give us examples of personal courage and sacrifice. Austin Channing Brown cautions us as to what reconciliation in the church is not. We include steps for what to do next, both for people of color and for white people, along with a final note on love. 


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