Episode 42:Stacia Hoeksema & Jevon Willis – “Racial Identity Development Part 1.”

Every leader who is serious about addressing racism in the church must start with understanding his/her own racial identity. This goes deeper than just knowing what racial categories they identify with, it is about knowing how those racial labels have affected our people groups and ourselves. The power of racism affects us all, whether we are aware of these effects or not. America’s system of racism was developed to advantage some people, at the expense of other people, in terms of resource extraction, labor, wealth accumulation and legal power. Echoes of this system have reverberated through the decades, often taking the form of new laws and policies which continue to have the effect of segregating and disempowering communities of color. The outcome of this system is that for many people in the dominant culture, their way of life is unquestioned, generally more comfortable, and assumed to be superior, standard or “normal.” Individuals who awaken to the knowledge that other ethnic communities don’t share in their privileges often experience this realization like a death, vacillating between the various emotions of the grief cycle (denial, anger, guilt, and depression) before having periods of acceptance that look forward to dismantling racism in the future.

But for People of Color, the effects of racism are not limited to intellectual abstractions. Their reality is quite the opposite, because the effects of racism are experienced often, if not continuously. For many, life starts from conception being affected by racism, being born into a racialized society where black and brown people too often still live in communities where the compounded effects of generations of systemic racism are everywhere. But even if you get some advantages, it is impossible to avoid all the effects of racism in society. After all, a person never gets to take off his/her skin to take a break from a racialized society.

But the subtler experiences of racism are perhaps the most poisonous because they don’t come from outside, they come from within in the form of self-doubt in ones opinions, intellectual capacity, or potential for achievement. This internalized racism is often experienced as a perpetual sense of being inferior or being “non-standard” and learning how to navigate people and systems serving the majority culture whose objectives may deviate or even denigrate their own. While it is sometimes possible to retreat from the racism of outside society for brief times, resisting the sense of oppression and doubt that plays over and over in one’s mind is quite another matter.

Today’s guests to the Antioch Podcast are generously sharing their individual stories with us today, to use their lived experiences as examples of how different people develop their own racial identities. Stacia Hoeksema is a Professor of Social Work at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mi. Jevon Willis is the Assistant Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Hope College in Holland, Mi. Both Stacia and Jevon are social workers and Anti-Racism Workshop Facilitators for Madison Church, as well as friends outside of their professional circles.

Let’s go now and hear the first part of this two-part interview:

Episode 41: Eric Nykamp – “Vacation, Community and the Church.”

I’m getting ready to leave to go on vacation. Probably some of you will also be planning some kind of trip over the summer where you won’t be at your home church. If you are fortunate enough, you might want to visit another church to see how they worship as a part of your trip. For my family, we try to visit other multiethnic churches when we are on the road . . . or in our case this year, overseas to visit my wife’s family in Hong Kong.

So . . . whenever you visit another church, it is inevitable that we humans compare what we think is normal about our home church to whatever church we are visiting.

So here are questions I ask about my own congregation at home, as well as the congregations I visit while traveling anywhere.

1.) What ethnic groups make up the community around the church building?

2.) What ethnic groups make up the congregation?

3.) What ethnic groups make up the leadership in this church?

4.) Whose ethnic songs are used in worship? (You could also examine cultural rules for timeliness, emotional expression etc.)

5.) What can you learn from noticing the similarities and differences between these three groups of people?

So let me start with my own home church. We are one church in three campuses, with each Madison Church campus in a different neighborhood.

The original campus of Madison is in the Madison Square Neighborhood of Grand Rapids, a neighborhood with a predominantly African-American population and a sizeable Latinx population which is gradually becoming more and more of a presence here. There are very few white folks in the neighborhood, and nearly no Asian or Native Americans. The housing stock is from the early 20th century, built over what had previously been a shanty-town on the outskirts of Grand Rapids. Many of the homes show signs of neglect, though there are some noteworthy examples of restoration taking place as the area is seeing some recent re-investment.

A couple of miles north on Madison Avenue is Madison’s Ford Campus, which meets in a Public Middle-School gym in a neighborhood that is nearly entirely African-American falling solidly within the former red-lined area of Grand Rapids. The housing stock is smaller homes from around the turn of the twentieth century, some in good repair, and some in a state of disrepair. However, it borders a neighborhood of historic homes which have been recognized for their historical value and saved from dereliction by a historic preservation committee. This neighborhood is home to many middle and upper-middle class white people who want to live near the revitalized downtown area. The difference in housing stock is striking in this neighborhood, and the two populations of the two neighborhoods rarely mingle.

Miles away on the northern side of Grand Rapids is Madison’s 4-year-old North campus. Like the Ford campus, Madison North meets in a school gym. Unlike its two sibling congregations, Madison North lies far outside the former red-lined areas of Grand Rapids. It is not far from where a group of history-making African American families bought their own land and built their own houses during the Civil Rights era, as a way to escape the housing discrimination rampant in Grand Rapids at the time. The neighborhood Madison North calls home is a mix of post World War Two housing through the early 1970’s, with a number of low-income and apartment housing complexes throughout the neighborhoods. The area is predominantly white, but there are pockets within the neighborhood with higher-concentrations of African American people.

This is what our neighborhoods are like, but it isn’t what the makeup of our congregations are like. None of our congregations represent the ethnic mixes of the neighborhoods where our church buildings are located. The closest may be Madison North, but that is mainly due to the larger white population in that area.

However, at each campus, there is an intentional mix of ethnic leadership, with the Ford and Square Campuses having the largest and more diverse leadership staff, and the North campus (being the newest) with a very small, and less diverse staff. All the campuses recognize the importance of raising up and attracting leaders from a variety of ethnic communities, as well as the dis-service placing someone in a leadership position they are not suited for just for the sake of building a diverse staff. If our campuses did not value having diverse leadership, we might as well forget the idea of growing an empowered multiethnic church community. Without diverse leadership, a multiethnic church would be little more than a multiethnic church plantation (https://thewitnessbcc.com/unhealthy-multi-ethnic-church-plantation/ ).

At Madison Churches, we often talk about trying to develop inclusive church cultures that are welcoming to all. But with so many ethnic communities and worship styles just in our city, who exactly are we trying to include? Here is the latest thinking on this matter. Traditionally, we have talked about designing worship services that draw on the following musical homes:

– Traditional Hymns
– Classic Praise and Worship
– Contemporary Praise and Worship
– Global Praise (at Madison, this often is Spanish-language songs and African Gospel)
– Contemporary Gospel
– Traditional Gospel & Spirituals

But this may be a shortcut way to think about who makes up our community. Our song choices need to be a reflection of the following three factors: Who constitutes our congregation, who constitutes our leadership, and who constitutes our neighborhood. In other words, who is already here and hearing the message, who is here and giving the message, and who needs to be help the church hear God’s message more fully?

So let’s ask ourselves a few questions about our home church cultures, and for a point of comparison, what we might learn from asking these same questions of our brother and sister congregations we might worship with while on vacation this summer.

We are taking a summer vacation on the Antioch Podcast for a month or so, but when we come back, I’m going to share with you a little about my exploration of multiethnic churches in Hong Kong over the summer. We’ve got some other great episodes percolating for you to hear in season two – episodes on racial identity development, anti-racism training, and some great book recommendations from Retonia! So . . . watch your podcast feed! We’re coming back soon!

Episode 40: We Talk Different – “Transformative Friendships.”

My wife and I consider ourselves to be fortunate in life because we have been well-loved by numerous people who deeply impacted our lives. Most of us long for this kind of transformative connection with people. We are fortunate when we find people whom we can relate to, people we can be unapologetically ourselves with when we are together. This past Sunday I met with two college students who were tearful at having to say goodbye to the friends and relationships they had formed at our church now that they had graduated. The value of authentic friendships cannot be overstated.

One of the joys of listening to podcasts is getting to hear the same people over and over again. The hosts and casts can become like friends we listen to every episode. As a podcaster myself, I spend a fair amount of time searching and listening to podcasts on race and religion. There are a handful out there, but some of my favorites are those where a cluster of friends switch on the microphone every so often and let us listeners listen in on the conversation they are having. Finding a multiethnic group of friends who talk about the things that make them different (and similar) is more of a challenge.

So imagine my joy when I found the podcast “We Talk Different” a podcast that talks about race, religion, politics, gender and . . . basically everything! Three friends, all Christians, sit down weekly to talk about whatever is happening in the world at the moment they turn on the mic. They like to say that they don’t talk like everyone else. They talk different. And truthfully, ever since I came across this podcast, I’ve been wanting to talk with them! So, it was this podcaster’s dream to find a way to do this crossover episode with Ashley, Elijah and Ryan who make it a point of sharing their lives with all of us in podcast land from deep in the heart of Texas.

I’m not going to drag out this prologue . . .

Let’s wrap this up and listen to the cast of We Talk Different talk about their friendship, and how they learned how to talk together. And if you think this kind of crossover episode is fun, I’d love to hear your thoughts whether or not you would be interested in attending a live event some time where Christian podcasters who talk about race and religion get together maybe in 2019 or 2020. I’d like to gauge the level of interest in this, so leave comments on our Facebook and Twitter pages or send us an email at Antiochpod@gmail.com.

Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.


Episode 39: Pastor John Eigege – “The Gospel of Gentrification.”

According to recent statistics by CBS News, two zip codes in Houston’s third ward are among the top areas being affected by gentrification in 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-gentrification-help-or-hurt-our-major-cities/

This is where we find today’s guest, a missionary from Nigeria to America, Pastor John Eigege. The gentrifying of Houston’s third ward is rapidly changing the neighborhood he has felt called by God to serve, a neighborhood whose historic significance to the city of Houston is in danger of being demolished, its residents displaced, and its story forgotten. He has written a series of three thought-provoking articles for the Office of Social Justice of the Christian Reformed Church entitled ‘”The Gospel of Gentrification” (http://dojustice.crcna.org/article/gospel-gentrification ) in response to what he is seeing in his mission field: Houston’s Third Ward in Texas. I met John a number of years ago through some mutual friends, and wanted to catch up to him and hear his story after reading what he wrote.

So I invite you now to listen in on our conversation as Pastor John Eigege and I talk about how gentrification is affecting his ministry to the people of Houston’s Third Ward as a missionary Chaplain through the Christian Reformed Church.

Episode 38: Pastor Joy Bonnema & Matt Krieg – “Resurrection Matters for Healthy Sexuality.”

This present moment in America will likely be remembered historically for the many social justice movements springing up in response to the societal ills presently plaguing this nation. Black Lives Matter arose in response to the numerous documented incidents of police violence against people of color. The recent March for Our Lives came about as teens respond to the ongoing plague of school shootings across the United States. The Women’s March, #TimesUp and the #MeToo movement have brought the culture of sexual harassment and abuse into the light, as brave women (and a few men) publicly disclose their stories of being raped and sexually abused by powerful men in the public eye.

The #ChurchToo movement has also made it clear that these instances of abuse go far beyond the news headlines of the prior decades where there were scandalous accusation of priests abusing children under the cover of the Catholic church. No corner of the Christian world, it seems, is free from the stain of this sin. Likely, there are numerous stories yet to be told. As a therapist, I’ve heard many. Many churches have cultures where the stories of women are discredited, or where women are encouraged to stay in abusive situations. Other churches acknowledge the sin of sexual abuse, but emphasize forgiving the abuser more than seeking justice for the abused. Christians need to examine their hearts, church cultures, and church systems and make the needed changes in response to this cultural moment. And… there likely will be some people who will be swept up and falsely accused of sexual misconduct, but will be unable to document their innocence. These stories keep coming, and clearly the church in America is no different than the rest of society in having denied, ignored, or under-responded to allegations of sexual misconduct.

This is nothing new. Both the Old and New Testaments are strewn with stories of sexual brokenness, though typically these stories are also “under-reported” in the pages of children’s story Bibles – the same place where the typical Christian adult’s Biblical literacy often ends. All Christians, those leading churches, and those in the pews, are affected. Fortunately, our God is neither surprised nor unequipped to help us address this most historical and still contemporary problem.

Today’s episode comes to you from two prior guests of the Antioch Podcast: Pastor Joy Bonnema and Matt Krieg. This is a recording of a sermon they presented together at Madison Church’s North Campus entitled “Resurrection Matters for Healthy Sexuality.” This is an excellent example of how to talk about this most delicate of topics scripturally and directly, without running the risk of being graphic or overly descriptive. At a time when so many leaders are falling due to allegations of sexual abuse, this message is all the more timely.

Episode 37: Retonia Brashier – “A Journey of Awakening.”

I joined my multiethnic church in 1990 at the invitation of my high-school art teacher. As an angst- filled teen, she told me that her church was a “good place for hurting people.” As a result, I found a lot of healing, in particular from being mentored by a number of African-American worship leaders whose transparency and music helped me discover a music that spoke truth with a level of emotion that underscored the power of the lyrics which words on a page could not achieve alone. For me as a white person, being invited to discover the gospel music tradition which married profound scriptural truth with palpable delivery gave me a place in which to pour out my heart to a God who gave me hope while walking with me when I didn’t know if I could take one more step. Being part of a multiethnic congregation helped me find healing.

But this isn’t the case for everyone. In the 1990’s through the turn of the millennium, the phrases “celebrating diversity” an “racial-reconciliation” became familiar terms in larger, white churches, popularized by mass movements such as Promise Keepers which touted cross-racial friendships as a goal for the faithful. I recall reading the 2005 Christianity Today article entitled “All Churches Should Be Multiracial” and thinking to myself (with a twist of pride) that my church were a little ahead of the curve on this issue as we had been a multiethnic congregation since the 1970’s. But the images of racial harmony in multiethnic churches began to be tested in the second decade of the 21st century. In 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot while walking through a neighborhood while eating candy and wearing a hooded sweatshirt by someone who thought he looked suspicious. While not an isolated case, the drumbeat of racial injustice arose again in 2014 with protests erupting in the Ferguson neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri following the police shooting of Michael Brown. The shootings of black and brown people by the police were frequently on the news and social media, leading the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Questions of racism and injustice were in the news and a topic of regular discussion for all Americans, including those in multiethnic churches.

In 2016, 81% of white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, a candidate who regularly espoused policies and used language which at best could be considered racially insensitive, and at worst publicly affirmed the similar expressions of overtly racist organizations. Following the 2016 election and accelerating after the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, many of evangelical megachurches which touted multiracial harmony a decade earlier now began to see the ranks of the people of color in their congregation thin. This was expertly expressed in the 2018 article in the New York Times titled “ A Quiet Exodus: Why Black Worshipers Are Leaving White Evangelical Churches”.
Retonia Brasier is one such person. I got to know Retonia in a private facebook group for Christians passionate about antiracism and Christianity. After eventually deciding to connect by phone, and hearing her story, I asked Retonia if she would be willing to share her story on the podcast.

We are intentionally keeping the identity of her now former church private, because this is not a story being told to “get back” at any people or institution in particular. Because this story has resonance around the country, Retonia is sharing her story as an example of how multiethnic churches who are unwilling or do not know how to talk about racism actually harm people in the church by allowing the sin of racism rooted in white supremacy to remain intact. This exodus of people of color from predominantly white churches is happening all over the United States as there is a reawakening among many people that the church, that God cares not just about saving us from our individual sin, but also to rid the world of the systemic sins of society at large.
Let’s go now and hear Retonia Brasier’s story.



Episode 36: Rev. Ricardo Tavárez – “Designing Worship”

It is my pleasure to welcome back Rev. Ricardo Tavárez to the Antioch Podcast. Ricardo is an ordained Minister of the Word in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He is the pastor of En Vivo Church, a growing multi-ethnic and bilingual (Spanish/English) congregation in the Burton Heights neighborhood of Grand Rapids. He was a previous guest on the podcast way back in Episode 14 where he talked about bilingual worship at En Vivo. In this talk, Rev. Ricardo talks about designing worship, based in part on Chapter 5 of Sandra Maria Van Opstal’s book “The Next Worship”. You can connect with Ricardo and En Vivo Church by following the link in the show notes of this episode.


Episode 35: Laura Pritchard – “Hosting Well”

It is a great honor today to introduce today’s presenter, Laura Pritchard. Laura is presently the Director of Multicultural Living at Madison Church’s Square Campus. Among her many duties is oversight of the work of the anti-racism team, outreach to the Madison Square neighborhood, and leading worship at Madison Church’s Square Campus. She has mentored numerous worship leaders over the years, modeling by example how to love a multiethnic congregation by learning and singing the worship songs of many people groups while continually striving to do so with increasing excellence. Laura is an experienced anti-racism trainer, facilitating “Understanding Racism” 2.5-day workshops both at Madison Church and other churches around Michigan. For decades Laura has been a long-serving member of Madison Church’s leadership team, offering a voice of wisdom and often challenging the church to continually grow in its desire to be a more fully reconciled body that actively works to dismantle systemic racism. She knows Madison Church is not a perfect church and yet has stayed committed to the mission of this body in spite of numerous hurts, misunderstandings, and difficult periods. She also is a regular panelist on the Antioch Podcast, and has been a guest on the Truth’s Table podcast. Above all else, Laura is a faithful servant of God, walking out what she believes by her faithfulness to this imperfect body of multiethnic believes at Madison Church.

On a personal note, Laura has deeply impacted my own life. I met Laura in 1992 through Madison’s Gospel Choir, and our relationship continued through serval worship teams in the ensuing decades. Laura’s commitment to truth-telling and transparency about her faith and her struggles, including struggles about race, deeply shaped me. Her voice and passion as a singer inspired me and helped to shape me as a gospel musician. I have been fortunate to know and be sharpened by my friend, Laura Pritchard.

Let’s go now to hear Laura give this presentation, entitled “Hosting Well.”


This is a link to the article by Daniel Jose’ Camacho briefly mentioned in this presentation:

Do Multicultural Churches Reinforce Racism?

Episode 34: Kinita Kadnar Schripsema – “Understanding Culture”

This latest series of the Antioch podcast is called Worshiping Diversely Together, exploring the themes of multicultural leadership in worship from Sandra Maria Van Opstal’s book “The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World” . For those of you following this series in the book, today’s lecture is based on chapter 7, which talks about the importance of acknowledging our elders, intentionality, and patience as skills multiethnic leaders need to have in leading multiethnic congregations. Author and speaker Kinita Schripsema shares her perspectives on these skills in today’s talk.

Kinita is a Jesus lover, wife, and mother to four children. She was born in India and has lived cross-culturally since the age of 5 between Canada and the U.S.A. As a published author and speaker, Kinita shares, with passion, her love for Jesus and her desire to see other believers grow in their faith in the spaces and places God has called them to be.

In this talk, titled “Understanding Culture”, Kinita gives an overview of her Understanding Culture workshop, which she gives in a longer format to groups and churches in the US and Canada. Links to Kinita, her book and talks are provided here in the shownotes for this episode.


Episode 33: Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans – “Food Fights: Reconciliation in Worship.”

Welcome to Episode 33 of the Antioch Podcast, a podcast about learning to lead in the multiethnic church. Today we return to our series on Sandra Maria VanOpstal’s book The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World. For those of you who have already purchased a copy of The Next Worship, you may have picked up on this already. If you haven’t purchased a copy of Sandra Maria Van Opstal’s book, you can do so here by clicking on the link provided in the shownotes of this episode.

Leading the discussion of Chapter three – Food Fights: Reconciliation in Worship, is Rev. Shannon Jammal-Hollemans. Shannon is a Collaborative Program Developer for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. She serves in the Offices of Faith Formation, Social Justice and Race Relations. She is a married mother of three with a Master of Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary. Shannon was ordained by Oakdale Park CRC for her work with the denomination in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Church’s One Foundation

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow

FYI í Today’s episode is powered by vibranium from our branch offices in Wakanda. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, its because you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, so . . . make that a priority whether you are a Wakandan, a colonizer, or none of the above . And if you want to hear three wonderful discussions of the film, check out the Black Panther and Wakanda Episodes from three of my favorite podcasts: Pass the Mic, Truth’s Table, and We Talk Different for three thoughtful discussions of this blockbuster film. We will provide links to these episodes in the shownotes for Episode 33 on AntiochPodcast.org.

Pass The Mic LIVE: Black Panther Part 1

Episode 32: Pastor James Lee – “Is PB&J Ethnic Food?”

Welcome to Episode 32 of the Antioch Podcast, a podcast about learning to lead in the multiethnic church.

Today’s episode is the second in a series of lectures given at Madison Church’s Square Campus in the spring of 2017 based on the book The Next Worship, by Sandra Maria Van Opstal. This talk, called “Is PB&J Ethnic Food?” is drawn from Chapter 2 of her book. If you have not read The Next Worship for yourself yet, we at the Antioch Podcast would strongly encourage you to purchase a copy to augment what you are hearing in this podcast series.

Now about today’s presenter.

Pastor James Lee was born and raised in Temple City, CA. He completed his undergraduate studies in History at Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI). While at Calvin, James was fortunate enough to serve in a variety of capacities as a student leader, including being one of Calvin’s Worship Apprentices. Upon graduation, James received a call to serve as a Youth and Young Adults Minister at an RCA congregation in Roslyn Heights, NY. After a few years, James heard God call him to return to Grand Rapids, this time to study at Calvin Theological Seminary where he is slated to graduate with his Masters of Divinity in 2018. Today, James currently serves as the English Ministry pastor at Korean Grace CRC, and also serves as a worship mentor to Calvin College students. James loves to talk about and lead worship, mentor worship leaders, as well as explore innovative ways to bridge gaps between cultures and generations in worship.

James is happily married to his beautiful wife Jin Young. At the time of this recording, James and Jin were expecting their first child, who was born on October 8th of 2017.

Episode 31: Rev. Reggie Smith – “Tension at the Table.”

Welcome to Episode 31 of the Antioch Podcast!

This is the beginning of a six-part series of talks called “Worshiping Diversely Together” inspired by Sandra Maria Van Opstal’s recent book The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World. Van Opstal was our first guest on the podcast, way back in Episode 4. As we’ve said in earlier episodes, this podcast comes out of Madison Church, a 100+ year-old multiethnic congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We’ve had our share of struggles and success over the past century, and we would be the first to admit that we don’t have all the answers to how to worship well together as a successful multiethnic congregation. In fact, we’ve made some really big mistakes over the years, mistakes that we’ve learned from, and some that we still make. And as host of this podcast and Director of Worship Design at one of our campus locations, I want to personalize this: I’ve made my own share of mistakes in helping my congregational circle worship well together. At Madison Church, we don’t have all the answers, but we are committed to having ongoing conversations about how we can better follow scripture so that we can worship well together.

This is where Van Opstal’s book comes in. Last year, one of our former Worship Directors, Shelli Fynewever, read this book and felt that this book would be very helpful for us at Madison to read together. Many of our worship team members got copies of the book and read it. Over the ministry year, Shelli and her intern Ben Hoekman, put together this six-part lecture series for the Wednesday Night Out mid-week ministry at one of our campus locations. These talks were recorded, and we are releasing them now to you here.

I would encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to purchase a copy of The Next Worship, so you can read some of the material that inspired each talk in the series. This episode, by Rev. Reggie Smith, covers Chapter 1: Tension at the Table.

Rev. Reggie Smith was previously featured on the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast in Episode 23. Rev. Smith is the former pastor of Roosevelt Park CRC and the present Director of the Office of Race Relations and the Office of Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). In addition, he works as Program Affiliate for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, is a regular contributing writer to the Grand Rapids Times, and is a husband and father. He and his family attend Madison Church’s Square Campus.
Let’s go now and listen to the episode.

Musical Credits:
Dianne Williams “Jesus Can Work It Out”

Jaou Santos – church during mass
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Grace Community Church) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evO6rejRSuI

Episode 30: Laurie and Matt Krieg – “Caring Well Together.”

Opinions about the rights of LGBTQ people is rapidly changing both in the US and around the world in the past two decades.

According to recent data collected by the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life in June 2017 ( http://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/),

“. . . in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%.

Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. And today, support for same-sex marriage is at its highest point since Pew Research Center began polling on this issue. Based on polling in 2017, a majority of Americans (62%) support same-sex marriage, while 32% oppose it.”

When looking at how religious affiliation affects opinions on same-sex marriage, all religious groups in the United States are seeing an increase in approval rates for same-sex couples to marry. The report states that:
“Two-thirds of Catholics now support same-sex marriage, as do a similar share of white mainline Protestants (67% and 68% respectively).”

Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants has now increased to 44% and white evangelical Protestants, while the lowest of all religious groups, even within this group support for same-sex marriage has grown from 27% in 2016 to 35% today.”

Now support for legally-recognized same-sex marriage does not necessarily carry over into church polity. There is considerable debate within the church in the United States, and around the world, about if or how individual people with same-sex attraction, and legally-married same-sex couples, are enfolded within congregations. Issues of scriptural interpretation, church governance, as well as cultural issues come into play with these discussions. Denominations, Bible Scholars, and Theologians continue to wrestle with these issues, often times coming to different conclusions, making it even more difficult for individual Christians to know who to take their cues from when relationships with real people are at stake.

How many relationships are at stake? Recent estimates of the LGBT population in the United States vary between 3.8% (http://news.gallup.com/poll/183383/americans-greatly-overestimate-percent-gay-lesbian.aspx) to 5% to as high as 10% (http://time.com/lgbt-stats/). This is similar to the stats in Europe where on average, 6% of Europeans identified as LGBTQ, with countries reporting numbers as low as 1.5% in Hungary to 7.4% in Germany (https://daliaresearch.com/counting-the-lgbt-population-6-of-europeans-identify-as-lgbt/). Again, even getting an idea of how many people identify as LGBTQ is quite difficult, but what is clear is that more and more people in the church either are LGBTQ themselves, or have a friends or family member who identifies as LGBTQ. The multiethnic church, is no exception. Multiethnic churches often are places where many LGBTQ people who are also people of color go to, in hopes of finding faith communities that affirm both their ethnic and sexual orientation.

Into this “great debate” around how the church responds to its members of the LGBTQ community step Laurie and Matt Krieg of Hole in My Heart Ministries (https://www.himhministries.com). I had an opportunity to visit with Laurie and Matt a week ago at Matt’s other office at Caring Well Counseling where they took a break from moving in furniture and assembling bookcases to talk with me about their ministry. Here is a little about Laurie and Matt from their website:

“Laurie Krieg is the founder and the executive director of Hole in my Heart Ministries, a compassionate teaching, writing, and mentoring ministry for those wrestling with issues related to sexuality. Laurie daily submits her broken same-sex sexuality to the lordship of Christ while married to her best friend (Matt Krieg), and comes alive sharing how and why she does that. Matt daily submits his broken heterosexual sexuality to the lordship of Christ while married to his best friend (Laurie), and comes alive sharing how and why he does that. Matt was a vital part of the launch of HIMH Ministries when it began in June 2015, and now works as a licensed professional counselor with Caring Well Counseling.

Laurie speaks and writes frequently including at HIMH’s Caring Well Conference, alongside Dr. Preston Sprinkle at the Q Conference, at numerous university settings include Wheaton College Chapel, has worked with Our Daily Bread’s Off the Page team, has been on Chris Fabry Live! and was featured on the DVD curriculum The Whole Sex Talk by the Pregnancy Resource Center. Laurie serves on the Board of Directors for The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender.”

In addition, Laurie and Matt have their own podcast, called the Hole in My Heart Podcast (https://www.himhministries.com/videos–podcasts.html), which they record together.

All the links mentioned in this opening, including links to Hole In My Heart Ministries, can be found in the show notes for this episode. This is one interview in what will be an occasional topic of this podcast, as we talk about worshiping diversely together.

At the end of this episode, Laurie and Matt reference a pastoral paper from the Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender on low and high-buffer churches. These, and other resources from a traditional Biblical view on same-sex marriage, can be found through the link below:


Episode 29: Pastor Brad Knetsch – “Learning to Lead”

Today’s episode is a recording of a conversation I had with Pastor Brad Knetsch in which he shares his perspective on some of the things he has learned leading a multi-ethnic church as a young, white, male pastor. Pastor Brad serves as the Pastor of Madison Church’s Ford Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Brad loves Jesus, the Gospel, and how the Holy Spirit is at work in his city. His passion is to fan into flame gifts-based, team-based vision, ministry, and evangelism.

Now, before we go any deeper into this episode, a few things need to be acknowledged.
This is a conversation between two white men about leading in multi-ethnic churches. It is quite likely that Pastor Brad and I may have similar blind-spots as we both grew up in the same church denomination, and have similar races, gender and ethnicity. My co-host partners have not been available to record with me lately, which ordinarily would help correct the kinds of biases which often happen when people who are quite similar talk. They do so much in terms of leadership in our church, and sometimes, that means that they cannot do everything that they would like to do. I have their blessing to do some of these interviews on my own.

Having their blessing matters to me. One of the values of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast is to highlight the perspectives, stories, research, and insights which people of color bring to the multi-ethnic church. Too often, even in multi-ethnic churches, the voices of white people, and especially white men, are given a disproportionate place of privilege. In fact, many church conferences – even multiethnic church conferences – are still dominated by the voices of white men, a fact which should get anyone’s bias radar bleeping like crazy! So. . . if your bias radar is going off right now because two white guys are going to talk about race and leadership in the church, I hope you see this interview in the context of the broader range of interviews and discussion which this podcast has offered, and will continue to offer in the future.

But here is the thing: There are a lot of white men in leadership in multiethnic churches. And we as white guys come with our white male baggage as people who often have a lot of listening and learning to do before we can even be good partners with, let alone lead, people of color. Too often we white men assume that we already have needed skills and knowledge to lead, but overlook the more important, slower work of earning trust through long-term relationships. We don’t know how blind we really are to systemic racism.

Because of our blindness and complicity, we as white men have done the most damage, individually, collectively, and systemically to people of color in the church. This is both true historically and is still true today. We as white men benefit the most from the racism that saturates our culture. And into this sin-saturated mess . . . some of us white men are called to be leaders of multiethnic churches, and we lead imperfectly. Our leadership is continually affected by our sin-nature.

So, as you listen to this interview, I hope you hear Pastor Brad Knetsch as a leader who is learning while he leads. He doesn’t have all the answers. But, even though he is an imperfect leader, if you listen, you might get a glimpse of how white men in leadership in multiethnic churches may want to model their ministry to be more effective leaders in the increasingly browning context of the multiethnic church.

Episode 28: Dr. David Daniels III – “The African Roots of the Reformation”

Today on the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast, we are going to explore the story of the African influences on Martin Luther, the Father of the Protestant Reformation. We will talk with Dr. David Daniels III, the Henry Winters Luce Professor of World Christianity at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. For those of you who want to read Dr. Daniel’s articles for yourself, scroll down to the links provided in the show notes for this episode, or head over to Antiochpodcast.org and check out the episode page.

Articles by Dr. Daniels cited in this episode:



Episode 27: Mark Charles – “The Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery.”

On today’s episode, entitled “The Trauma of the Doctrine of Discovery”, we catch up with Christian speaker and Native American activist Mark Charles. In this conversation, Mark shares his thoughts about the intersectionality of his activism and his Christian faith, particularly around creating a common memory when it comes to the how colonization and Christianity impacted African-Americans and the indigenous nations of the Americas. Sprinkled throughout this conversation, Mark discusses several of his upcoming projects, including the 5th Annual “Would Jesus Eat Frybread” conference, the National Dialogue on Race, Gender and Class, as well as his thoughts on how Christians of all ethnicities may want to mark Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

Episode 26: The Decline of Caucasian Christianity – Implications for the Multiethnic Church

On September 6, 2017, a fascinating study on religion in the United States was released. The study, conducted by PRRI (the Public Religion Research Institute), was entitled America’s Changing Religious Identity. The researchers, Daniel Cox, Ph.D., Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., open the report by saying:

The American religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation. White Christians, once the dominant religious group in the U.S., now account for fewer than half of all adults living in the country. Today, fewer than half of all states are majority white Christian. As recently as 2007, 39 states had majority white Christian populations. These are two of the major findings from this report, which is based on findings from PRRI’s 2016 American Values Atlas, the single largest survey of American religious and denominational identity ever conducted. This landmark report is based on a sample of more than 101,000 Americans from all 50 states and includes detailed information about their religious affiliation, denominational ties, political affiliation, and other important demographic attributes.

So… what does this mean for the multiethnic church?

Eric Nykamp, producer of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast, considers four possible ways this demographic shift could affect governance, community life, and worship in multiethnic churches in the US. Drawing from historical examples and scripture, each of these potential scenarios is fleshed-out for how the multiethnic church in the United States could look in the coming decades.


Episode 25: Fannie Lou Hamer’s 100th Birthday & Podcast Spotlight

Exactly one-hundred years ago, on October 6, civil-rights activist, worship leader, and philanthropist Fannie Lou Hamer was born. This episode celebrates the life of Fannie Lou, the “woman who sings the hymns,” whose life and music continue inspiring activists and worshipers alike in the 21st Century.

In the second half of the episode, we shine a spotlight on two podcasts who have episodes covering some of the same topics we routinely cover in the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast.

Links to sources cited in this podcast:
Part 1:

Historical Audio of Fannie Lou Hamer

Part 2:

Washington Post Article on PRRI’s study of cross-racial friendships

Scene on Radio’s 14-Part Series “Seeing White”

Truth’s Table

Episode 24: Joy Bonnema – “Being the Church in Such a Time as This.”

Pastor Joy Bonnema is the Campus pastor of Madison Church: North Campus – a four-year-old multiethnic church plant on the NE side of Grand Rapids, MI. She has a PhD. in Immunology from Mayo Graduate School. She taught biology at Calvin College for 10 years before transitioning into full-time parish ministry. She was ordained as a Commissioned Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church in 2008.

Prior to planting the North Campus of Madison Church, Pastor Joy was the Pastor of Congregational Life at the Square Campus of Madison Church. She is a highly-requested speaker and teacher speaking on topics including multi-ethnic ministry, leadership development, science and faith, Christian formation, and growing in life in the Holy Spirit. As my pastor, I am very happy to share this recent sermon from Madison North, entitled “Being the Church In Such A Time as This.” This message was partially inspired by, and an expansion on, the article by Pastor Reggie Smith shared in our last episode.

Episode 23: “White People, ‘Being Nice’ Isn’t Working.” – An Interview With Rev. Reggie Smith

This episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcasts is an interview with my friend, Pastor Reggie Smith. Pastor Reggie is the Director of the Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He advises churches, and organizations, on cross-cultural and urban ministry. He has written extensively through devotionals, articles, book reviews, and web articles as a senior pastor over the past 20 years. He has spoken widely as a guest preacher, seminary professor, and workshop leader. He also serves as a program affiliate with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in the areas of faith, work, and worship; universal design for worship; urban ministry; and justice issues. I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Reggie in his office at the headquarters of the Christian Reformed Church of North America to talk with him about a recent article he published in the Grand Rapids Times entitled “Dear White West-Michigan People, ‘West Michigan Nice’ Is Not Working.”

Episode 22: “The Fierce Urgency of Now” – Jemar Tisby

This is a remix episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast of Jemar Tisby’s presentation “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Christian Complicity with Racism and the Imperative for Immediate Action,” given at 1 Charleston 2017 and orriginally shared on the Pass the Mic Podcast on July 10th, 2017.

Jemar Tisby is a former school teacher and principal, and currently is a PhD student in History at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. While at RTS, Jemar was involved with the African American Leadership Initiative (AALI) at RTS Jackson.  The AALI seeks to increase the number of African Americans at the seminary and prepare Christians of any race for African American, multi-ethnic, and urban ministry.

Jemar is perhaps best known as the president of the Reformed African American Network (RAAN). He writes and speaks about race, religion, and culture as president through RAAN as well as for many other prominent newspapers and magazines. He is also the co-host of the “Pass The Mic” podcast, put out by RAAN and Podastary Studios, which is where I first heard this message. Thank you to Jemar and “Pass the Mic” for giving us permission to share this message on the Antioch podcast.

Additional thanks goes out to Derek Winfield and Katt Tait, for the vocal tracks on this remix episode.


Episode 21: “Worshiping Whiteness” – Eric Nykamp

Eric Nykamp is the Director of Worship Design at Madison Church’s North Campus, the Director of the Antioch Worship Leadership Trainings for all of Madison Church’s campuses, and the producer of this podcast.  He also is worship leader and speaker, giving talks on using visual art as a method of prayer, utilizing drum circles in worship, and worship leadership in multi-ethnic congregations.  This talk, “Worshiping Whiteness, ” is a talk he recently gave as part of an ongoing worship leadership training to a majority-white congregation desiring to transition into a multi-ethnic church.

Many urban white churches realize that their congregation doesn’t reflect the diversity of the cities they reside in, and many of these churches desire to become multi-ethnic communities.  However, moving from this desire to developing into an actual multi-ethnic community can be challenging, especially for churches with a track-record of being a “whites only” worship space in their city.  Since most white people have little awareness of their white cultural norms, they mistakenly assume that what is normal for them is also the norm for all people … and are puzzled when their “outreach” or “welcome and enfolding” efforts fall flat with people of color. Due to this cultural blindspot, they are unable to recognize that some of their white cultural norms send the message that people of color with different norms of worship are not welcomed, unless the person of color is willing to assimilate.

Some majority-white churches realize that changing their worship norms will help them develop into the multi-ethnic space they desire to become … but find that they are stuck in making this happen.  This talk, given at one such church, addresses how white Christians need to recognize and understand how white norms about worship may operate within their church. The presentation asks questions about what it would mean for white people to change their ways and give up power in order to become a multiethnic community.  He concludes with a challenge to white Christians in multiethnic churches to love their brothers and sisters of color with Christ self-sacrificial love for the church, especially when it comes to issues of power and control in multiethnic churches.

Episode 20: Ekemini Uwan – “The Fall: How Did We Get Here?”

Ekemini Uwan is a bold and insightful theologian, and perhaps now is best-known as one of the three co-hosts of the thought-provoking podcast “Truth’s Table”, which is highly recommended listening for every Antioch Podcast fan.  It is a privilege to have been able to remix and share her talk “The Fall: How did we get here?”, a chapel talk which she gave in February of 2017 as a lament grounded in scripture on social injustice around the United States and the world at large.  Since mutuality is a core foundation for multiethnic churches to worship well together, this timely lament informs the way we sensitively approach God as a community, interceding for our world in unity.

Ekemini received her Master of Divinity degree in 2016 from Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the 2015 Greene Prize in Apologetics Award recipient. As one who is passionate about sound theology, Ekemini has a fierce commitment to biblical orthodoxy and its implications for issues pertaining to racial injustice, police brutality, and white supremacy.

Ekemini believes that theology can and does speak to the culture, social, and political issues of our present day.  As a result, she often speaks, opines, and writes about the aforementioned for various online publications.

Her writings have been published in the Huffington Post Black Voices, Christianity Today, and The Reformed African American Network to name a few. Her insights have been quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mashable, and The Huffington Post Religion.

In her spare time, she enjoys discipling women, spending quality time with loved ones and working out. As a self-proclaimed part-time fashionista, she has a penchant for thrift shopping.

NOTE: The Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast team is planning on doing a full interview with Ekemini in an upcoming episode, but wanted to give you a taste of her cutting edge work and delivery style now to wet your appetite for this later interview.

More links for Ekemini Uwan’s work:








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Episode 19: Pastor Darrell Delaney – Race & PTSD

Darrell Delaney, who asks to go by “Pastor Darrell”, is the Campus Pastor of Madison Church’s Square Campus. He has a deep love of learning, and holds degrees from many of the predominant colleges and seminaries in the Reformed tradition: Kuyper College, Calvin Seminary where he earned his Masters of Theology, and Western Theological Seminary where he earned his Masters of Divinity.

While at Calvin Seminary, Pastor Darrell wrote a research paper on the correlations between racial microaggressions / microtraumas and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among racial minorities in the USA.  The idea of cultural forces being a source of trauma is one which peaked my curiosity, as on its face this proposition makes sense. Wanting to hear more, I reached out to Pastor Darrell, who graciously agreed to share his paper and do an interview with me on race and PTSD.




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Episode 18: Barbecue

In this episode of the Antioch Worship Leadership Podcast, Eric and Attah are joined by fellow Madison Church staff member, Jermale Eddie, to discuss the article “A Negro’s Guide to Surviving a White Cookout” by Sharhonda Knott Dawson. At first glance, this article may seem farfetched from any discussion about worship or community life in the multi-ethnic church … but just wait! The cast discusses cross cultural aspects of both preparing and sharing barbecue, with insightful parallels to gathering at the table of worship in multi-ethnic communities. There are many mouthwatering metaphors in this episode, so don’t listen on an empty stomach! Many thanks to Daddy Pete’s Barbecue in Grand Rapids, for providing ribs and sides for us at the beginning of the episode.




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