One Presbyterian pastor believes the best way to address racism in this country is to look within our own hearts.
“We need a transformation of the mind and heart. And when the mind and heart are transformed, behavior is transformed,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark A. Lomax. “We need to dig down deep into what is at the heart of our brokenness in this country from a biblical and theological perspective.”
Lomax will be the keynote speaker at Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day (April 15) as part of Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. More than 1,000 people from various denominations, including 200 Presbyterians, gather annually in the nation’s capital to discuss important national and international issues. The conference wraps up with a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional representatives.
This year’s theme is “Lift Every Voice: Racism, Class and Power,” and will be held April 15-18. Church leaders say this timely topic is creating a lot of interest across the denomination. Lomax says the wounds from racism are still fresh in this country.
“I think the Trayvon Martin murder case in Florida brought the issue of racism back to the national forefront. That’s when people began to realize that this problem may not have gone away. It made us realize we still have this racial tension or violence in America,” he said. “I think it has awakened us to this persistent, underlying problem.”
“The church has to be the church, the mosque has to be the mosque and the temple has to be the temple. We have to begin to live our faith,” said Lomax. “We have a relationship with the church, but we don’t have a relationship with the creator and I think that’s true of all people of faith.”
Lomax believes churches across all denominations should shoulder some of the responsibility for the current state of race in the U.S. when they move out of the inner cities for the suburbs.
“The churches of America are not welcoming to the lost, we are not welcoming to those that God has told us to be concerned about,” he said. “The poor, the oppressed, widowed and immigrants, we are not particularly concerned about them.”
Lomax says we have yet to address the “deep spiritual brokenness” impacting all people of color and points to peaceful ways to make an impact.
“Public schools for example, are re-segregated due in no small part to the persistent manifestations of white flight,” he said. “Conversely, black and other peoples of color must stop fueling the beast of racist thought and behavior by spending their dollars with people who fail to regard their humanity.”
Lomax is hoping to engage Presbyterians into a deeper discussion when he speaks at CPJ Training Day on the 15th.
In addition to his current duties, Lomax has served as pastor in churches in North Carolina and Georgia. He has served on various presbytery and General Assembly committees and task forces, as well as Interim President-Dean of the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, and is a published author.
For more information about the entire Advocacy Training Weekend, including registration, click here.