An Invitation from Rev. Chris Moore
Come to Tulsa Early; Here’s Why
Chris is Senior Pastor, Fellowship United Church of Christ
In 1921, Tulsa was home to one of the worst incidents of racial violence that this nation has ever known, called now the “Tulsa Race Massacre,” and it forever shaped the city. It’s not known how many were killed when the white citizens of Tulsa burned the prosperous Greenwood District, known as “Black Wall Street” to the ground. The majority of families lost whatever wealth they had forged forever. Many left and never returned to Tulsa. For years the event was “whitewashed” out of the history books and children who went to school in Tulsa Public Schools were not told of this dramatic piece of history that happened sometimes blocks from their schools, and sometimes to their own families.
What it means for Fellowship to be the UCC in Tulsa is wrapped up in contending with the trauma of this event. It means that we, a largely white congregation, have had to be willing to be uncomfortable, we’ve had to engage hard truths and to seek the reconciliation that can only come from truth. What we’ve found in Tulsa, at least in some places, is that when we talk about things that frighten or traumatize us, when we engage with things that are awkward, when we do the hard work that seeks understanding, we actually build community. It doesn’t come from convincing people to join your bubble, or arguing why your viewpoint is “right,” it comes from stepping outside ourselves, taking up that humility that Jesus preaches all the time and creating something new together, something that is different for everyone, for we cannot put new wine into old wineskins.
So, I am inviting you to come early to the annual meeting in October, to take the tour of the Greenwood Cultural Center and to learn about the events here in Tulsa, to engage with the stories going on here and to find out how some wisdom is coming from our wounds. I promise you this, though the details of this event may be different from your locale, the foundations of racism and violence are the same, our need to reach for something new is the same, our call to “Be the Church” is the same.