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2009 Conversations


Sara Groves
12.21.08

Keith and Kristyn Getty
12.14.08

Jesse Miranda
11.30.08

Heather Bland
11.23.08

Cathleen Lewis
11.16.08

Robert Leathers
11.9.08

Ravi Zacharias
10.26.08

Scotty Gibbons
10.19.08

George O. Wood
9.28.08

George O. Wood
9.21.08

G. Robert Cook Jr.
9.14.08

Michelle LaRowe Conover
8.31.08

Janet Boynes
8.24.08

Kirk Cameron
8.17.08

Laura Wilkinson
8.10.08

Melody Rossi
7.27.08

Randy Travis
7.20.08

Maylo Upton-Aames
7.13.08

Chuck Norris
6.29.08

Francis Xavier 'Chip' Flaherty Jr.
6.22.08

Ben Carson
6.15.08

Robert H. Spence
6.8.08

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser
5.25.08

R. Albert Mohler Jr.
5.18.08

James K. Bridges
5.11.08

Manny Mill
4.27.08

Brock Gill
4.20.08

Robert Burt
4.13.08

Gerry Hindy
3.30.08

J.I. Packer
3.23.08

Stanley Horton
3.16.08

Linda Mintle
3.9.08

Joanna Weaver
2.24.08

Buck Taylor
2.17.08

Debra Risner
2.10.08

Bill Glass
1.27.08

Edward Gilbreath
1.20.08

Rob Seagears and Andy Casper
1.13.08


2007 Conversations


2006 Conversations


Conversation: Edward Gilbreath

Blue over black and white

Edward Gilbreath, 38, has been a writer and editor for Christian magazines for 15 years. His recent book, Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity, is full of vignettes in Gilbreath's life that help illuminate how a subtle institutional racism can influence faith. The book is a mixture of autobiographical content and keen observation of events past and present. After a dozen years at Christianity Today International, Gilbreath in October became editorial director at Urban Ministries Inc. in Calumet City, Ill. He recently spoke with TPE News Editor John W. Kennedy.

tpe:  Why did you write this book?

GILBREATH: It grew out of my journey as a black Christian. As a little boy I went to a white Baptist church and as a young adult I went to a mostly white evangelical college. I ended up at Christianity Today where for a long time I was the only African-American on staff. I know God has called me to all these places, but sometimes there are frustrations, loneliness and personal doubts living as a black Christian in a white Christian world.

tpe: How has the book been received? You make some pointed arguments.

GILBREATH: I've talked to a lot of other black evangelicals who have expressed similar feelings. The church has been hindered in the area of race relations by not going beyond the superficial. We may have an annual choir exchange, but we don't have deep, genuine relationships across racial lines. It's easy in the evangelical world to dismiss folks because of assumptions and stereotypes. But the call we have to love our neighbor means we have to be more intentional about loving people beyond racial, denominational or political labels.

tpe:  Why did you stay in the white evangelical subculture when other blacks have called it quits?

GILBREATH: Even as a boy in Rockford, Ill., I was bused across town to integrate public schools. I feel called to be a bridge builder. As a writer, I'm trying to get sensitive issues on the table so we can be more realistic about our conversations. Although we've made a lot of progress, a lot of division and misunderstanding remain.

tpe:  What are some areas of progress in the past decade?

GILBREATH: The Promise Keepers phenomenon in the 1990s served as a catalyst for other Christian organizations to put racial reconciliation on the front burner. The Pentecostals had the Memphis Miracle declaration against racism. But by the end of the decade the mood shifted, and reconciliation isn't driving most evangelicals anymore. The intentional effort and long-term commitment that it requires are exhausting.

tpe: Are there glaring areas that still need to see progress?

GILBREATH: Some would say today's evangelical institutions are shaped by white worship styles, theology and business practices and they are accustomed to doing things a certain way while wearing cultural blinders they don't even recognize they have.

tpe: What should they do to change their ways?

GILBREATH: We all could be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leadership. If we're in a situation where we're in the majority culture at a church, in the workplace or in a school setting, are we taking into consideration the needs and perspectives of those from the minority cultures around us? We need to be intentional about loving our neighbor and, as Paul urges in Romans 12, preferring others above ourselves.

tpe: What does racial disunity among denominations say to the non-Christian?

GILBREATH: Few non-Christians think about the church as a place where blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians get together to make the community better. The world is used to seeing all-white or all-black congregations. But our unity could be a witness to Christ's love and mission.

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