March 1, 2021
Agape Safe Haven Holds Roundtable Discussion On Race, Politics, and Christian Community
A Longmont-based Christian homeless ministry, Agape Safe Haven, held an online round table discussion titled UNITY Begins in the Church: A Discussion of Race, Politics, and Christian Community. The idea for the event came about when Safe Haven’s Executive Director, Pastor Gary Jefferson, left a Pastor’s Bible Study he helped found over ten years ago because the “focus shifted away from Jesus and towards politics. There were even times I felt like the pastors that were gathered forgot that there was a black man in the room. I felt uncomfortable with some of the language I heard”. His experience prompted Safe Haven’s Communications Director, Jessica Bennett, to reach out to several prominent black voices in Northern Colorado to facilitate a conversation for the community centered around three core issues: race, politics, and Christian community.
Adrian Miller, the Executive Director of the Colorado Council of Churches agreed to act as a panelist and moderator. Joining the panel were Pastor Gary Jefferson, Safe Haven’s executive director and lead pastor at Front Range Christian Fellowship Church in Longmont; Ivy Hartfield, Director of Gospel Expressions Choir of Colorado; and Rev. Aaron Gray, lead pastor at Christ United Methodist Church in Ft. Collins. As the group gathered for the livestream in the historic sanctuary of Erie United Methodist Church, the discussion brought about both self-reflections and words of hope. Pastor Jefferson remarked at the outset when talking about the black and white divide that “We have an obligation to love one another. Enjoy the differences that we have.” When discussing negative rhetoric, Ivy Hartfield, stated “Love one another. If you are doing or saying this to me or about me, then how can you love me?” When the panelists were discussing charting a path forward, Rev. Gray stated, “We have to change our language. We have built walls...not bridges of greater understanding”.
The responses from those that watched the livestream were very impactful. Some include: “Thank you panel and moderator for your candid words.” “Thanks so much for this helpful conversation.” “Many thanks to each panelist for your anointed discussion. Your perspectives are invaluable to all of us white people in mostly white communities and I so appreciate your emphasis on unity and love. Thank you all and God bless you.”Given the positive responses, the panel is determined to hold another live stream Roundtable in early summer. To watch the Facebook Live video please click on this link: https://fb.watch/3Z09USllrx/