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receiving so much less than anyone else in terms of opportunities in life.” Johnson coined a term to describe

a key problem: “unintentional apart- heid.” T e fi rst word, he explained, takes away some of the shame. T e latter is meant to shock people into action. Breitmoser of St. John now

Dominic Lindqvist (left), and his wife Phyllis give meals to people who are homeless in downtown Jacksonville as part of St. John’s outreach program.

northern European infl uence. … To imagine doing things diff erently is very diffi cult.” When new ideas and methods are

introduced, the reaction might be, “T at’s not Lutheran.” “T ese are opportunities to stretch

our faith,” Rinehart said. “We must emphasize grace through faith and not a particular kind of worship.” Erlandson has viewed new cul-

tural infl uences as opportunities to incorporate diversity in worship. For T anksgiving worship, he called on Redeemer’s American Indian mem- bers to share elements from their traditions: burning sage and Four Directions Prayer. Sometimes people with strong ties

to the once dominant culture resist such contributions. Changing that reaction and creating a sense of open and welcome has been Harlan John- son’s mission. “All my life, I have had a passion for

two things: connection and equity,” he said. “T e idea of connecting and part- nering with people, to me, that’s what Jesus is all about. We need to be able to talk to each other, listen with our heart and talk with our heart.” Passion led Johnson to travel to Mississippi in 1964 for what became

known as Freedom Summer. He later joined the Peace Corps and spent three years in India. Eventually he returned to his

hometown of Rockford, Ill., and to Emmanuel Lutheran Church. Now in his 70s, he champions many causes, including engaging other white people in dialogue about anti-racism advocacy. Although he’s something of a

de facto inside man, he worries his message isn’t received. “I haven’t fi g- ured out how to reach the vast group of white people who don’t get it,” Johnson said. “T ere’s a fear, I think, about having conversations across the barriers. T ey’re afraid they’re going to be seen as racist. “T ere’s also a lot of discomfort

about dealing with the fact that these other citizens in our community are

( ‘The idea of connect-

ing and partnering with people …that’s what Jesus is all about. We need to be able to

talk to each other, listen with our heart and talk with our heart.’


Author bio: Golden is a writer, speaker and facilitator. She writes the “On Faith” weekly column for The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. She attends Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

February 2016 21

understands that her decision about choosing a new congregation raised eyebrows among others of European descent. Some have even asked why she’d do such a thing. Doesn’t she want to go to a white church? Don’t African-Americans want to worship with other African-Americans? Her response is simple: Color isn’t

a factor in choosing whom she spends time with. She has no interest in limit- ing her circle to those perceived to be her “kind.” “We all bring something,”

Breitmoser said. “T e diversity means something. We’ve created a great church. We accomplish things that surprise bigger churches. T ey want to know how we do that.” Last summer, St. John members

took turns delivering the weekly ser- mon. For Breitmoser, it was an oppor- tunity to explain her appreciation. “I talked about how loved I felt to

be included in this group of people,” she said. “With all the problems that have existed in the South over the years … as a white person, I felt like I didn’t deserve to be welcomed as I was. And here I was, standing up in a mostly black congregation, feeling loved and accepted.” 


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