Jim Seymour, D.Min., an Assemblies of God minister, is head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at St. Augustines College in Raleigh, N.C. He recently spoke with Ken Horn, managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel, about his efforts at racial reconcilation.
Evangel: Tell us about your spiritual journey.
Seymour: In 1971, I was home from college in Bridgeport, Conn., with my best friend, Ray Monroe, who today pastors Bethany Assembly of God in Stamford, Conn. We were both Roman Catholics who went to a tent service, just to waste time. We responded to the salvation appeal and now almost 30 years later are in ministry.
I was called into the ministry after my second year at Central Connecticut University and attended Zion Bible Institute in East Providence, R.I., and later, Southeastern College of the Assemblies of God in Lakeland, Fla. I spent the first 16 years of my ministry as a missionary first, in Bethel, Alaska; then in Zimbabwe, Africa. I pastored in Raleigh, and came to St. Augustines in 1996.
Evangel: Share your perspective on Acts 1:8.
Seymour: Evangelical churches are committed to the Great Commission, but we have largely neglected our "Samaria." I identify the Samaritans today as being the minority communities among us. And particularly in America, we should be reaching back to help right the wrongs caused by slavery by building relationships with our African-American brethren.
Evangel: How can we reach Samaria?
Seymour: We have a ministry in Raleigh called Pastors for Awakening and Reconciliation (PAR), which is clergy from various denominations, both black and white, who meet monthly. One of the leaders of PAR mapped out the area in our community that has the most crime, violence, drugs and prostitution. Pastors, even those from the suburbs, have adopted a city block to pray for as well as build relationships. We are finding grandmothers who dont have blankets, children without school supplies, children who go to bed hungry. Were getting together one on one for fellowship and our children are getting to know each other.
Another model churches can embrace is Jobs Partnership International. Jobs Partnership was founded by an African-American pastor in Raleigh and a white businessman who owned a construction company. The businessman had a shortage of workers. The pastor had many in his church who were unemployed. And that was the genesis of Jobs Partnership.
People take a discipleship course and then network with Christian mentors on job sites who oversee their work for several months and help connect them to a local church.
My wife and I have a ministry called First Steps. We started it under the covering of First Assembly of God in Raleigh for interracial healing and racial reconciliation. Last June we did two racial reconciliation conferences with pastors to give guidelines for the body of Christ to come together along racial lines.
Evangel: Anything else?
Seymour: George Barna listed the top 10 challenges facing America as we begin the 21st century. Number 1 on his list is ethnic fragmentation. We must make it our highest priority to dismantle this wall of racial separation in the body of Christ.
Being a missionary has helped me to understand racist attitudes. My prayer is that the body of Christ will face reality and begin to deal with these.
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