A liberal Illinois church that has received media attention for saying that it would not utilize any music or liturgy created by white people during Lent is standing behind its woke ways.
The First United Church of Oak Park, which is openly pro-LGBT and lists social justice as one of its "core values," had previously posted a message on its website headlined, "Lent 2022: Fasting From Whiteness."
"For Lent this year, First United is doing a mix of 'giving something up' and 'taking something on.' In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people. Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more," the church's website previously stated. "For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins."
While that message no longer appears on the church's website, statements addressing the controversy have been posted.
"Our Lenten theme has spurred considerable discussion, with some people questioning the message. In practice with the Lenten spiritual discipline of fasting, our intent was to lay aside our usual frames of reference and open ourselves to hearing the Gospel message through the voices of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color," one statement explained. "Our worship services in Lent have been diverse and beautiful. We pray that God oils the hinges of our hearts’ doors that they might swing open gently to receive the good news of Christ’s resurrection, which we all await at the culmination of Lent."
The church said in another press release that it got more than 1,000 "hateful messages" in less than a day.
"White people absolutely have a place in the redemption story. White people were even at the foot of the cross: they were the Roman Guards. As white people we must love our Redeemer enough to put down our spears. We must love our redeemer more than our whiteness, and kneel before our redeemer who is a dark-skinned man from the poor parts of town," Rev. John Edgerton said, according to the press release.
Edgerton is described as the "Lead Pastor" on the church's website — the press release uses the term "senior pastor."