Leaders in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) unanimously affirmed that racial reconciliation is a biblical mandate, according to the February Evangelical Leaders Survey. The majority of the respondents (69 percent) also said they have preached, taught or heard a sermon on racial reconciliation in the last year.
“At the center of the gospel is God’s heart to reconcile people to himself and to reconcile people to each other,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president. “Racial reconciliation demonstrates the power of the gospel and reflects Christ’s work on the cross that brought us near to God.”
“As part of the Christian’s call to the ministry of reconciliation, we should include race as one component,” said Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Nicole Baker Fulgham, president of The Expectations Project, a faith-based education advocacy organization, said, “Since God calls for reconciled relationships, I could never exclude racial reconciliation from that mandate. Given the historic and systemic nature of racial sin in the United States, we need to address it. The Church has its own history of segregation, prejudice and racism. We are not immune, and we need faith leaders from all backgrounds to step up on this,” she said.
Some evangelical leaders expressed frustration with the current dialogue in the evangelical community. One leader noted that many seem to be experiencing fatigue with efforts of racial reconciliation. Another said, “In evangelical circles it is — in my opinion — a neglected topic. When it is addressed, it is rarely addressed in its fullness.”
However, several other leaders noted ongoing specific efforts, including publications, seminars, denominational overtures and regional church gatherings.
“Relational respect for others is the heart of the gospel message,” said Jim Tolle, pastor of El Camino Metro Church in Los Angeles. “Whether economic, ethnic, gender or any other differentiation, the transformative impact of Scripture and Christianity, specifically, is what sets it apart from all other creeds, systems and religions — seeking to facilitate everyone’s identity as ‘being in the image of God.’”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.