A Call to Repentance and Renewal

Louisiana is once again in the news with a series of three African American churches in St. Landry parish burned to the ground, and a fourth, a Pentecostal church in Northwest Louisiana in the town of Vivian also suffered damage from arson.

A 21 year-old young man has been arrested for arson of the three churches in South Louisiana. Pastors and members of other churches are breathing a sigh of relief as a result of the arrest and no longer are sleeping in their churches in case someone might attempt to burn theirs up as well.

Though we would have hoped that the citizens of our state would have progressed in race relations and that racism is no longer as prevalent, these incidents suggest we may, in fact, be experiencing an increase in racial unrest and violence.

The three African American Churches are part of a Baptist Denomination that is a member church of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference. Such incidents as we are experiencing bring to mind that we are a part of the universal Church of Jesus Christ and we are brothers and sisters of one another.

In the Christian Tradition the most popular prayer, the Lord's prayer begins with, "Our Father . . ."  In an address recently Governor John Bel Edwards pointed out that in invoking "Our Father" tells us that we are all brothers and sisters in God's family.

The apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans uses the metaphor of the human body to argue that we each make up the Body of Christ. All are vital and essential to the health of the Body.

It is essential in overcoming the sin of racism to recognize that confession and repentance may be the tools necessary for the renewal of our personal and corporate life in Louisiana. We as a people also need to educate ourselves on the roots of racism that are deeply imbedded in our culture and all the sectors of society. The awareness we can achieve will go a long way toward creating a climate of life in Louisiana in which all people can grow, flourish and prosper.

We join with people of goodwill throughout Louisiana as we strive to create communities that value the dignity of every human being.

In the meantime, we continue to pray and reach out to the pastors and people of the churches who've been affected by arson. Of course, we also believe that good will come from this tragedy. We recall that in the rebirth of Spring and the symbols of rebirth of Faith, the dark night that brought out the evil deeds that were manifested in destruction and the desire to take away bastions of spirituality, will give away to hope and New Life!  

The LIC includes membership of churches from around the state. It was founded in 1970, and now has 16 member Christian denominations as well as representation from Church Women United. The ecumenical Order of Saint Lazarus is an Associate Member. The member churches seek greater Christian unity through sharing a common faith in witness, worship, study, and service.

For more information, please visit our website at www.lainterchurch.org or contact the Rev. Dr. Timothy Jones, President of the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, 527 N. Blvd, 4th Floor, Baton Rouge, LA, 70802; phone 225-344-0134; fax 225-344-0142; E-mail: lainterchurch@aol.com.

Contributed by the Louisiana Interchurch Conference