This month, CSM joined Camp Bethel of Bethel Baptist Church Collegeville and experienced the walking journey of Birmingham’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a “living institution” that displays the history of racial division in the United States, focusing on Birmingham’s role in the Movement. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute creates a program that promotes cultural awareness. By the end of the summer, we will have hosted many youth groups and camps. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is one stop we always recommend to these groups to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the tension that exists in our country. The conversations that result from these visits are evidence of God’s work in our individual lives, communities, and nation.
Through staff meetings and Bible studies, we at CSM have discussed removing the tension that divides us and have practiced the restoration of loving relationships. Second Corinthians explains how God reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore we are Christ’s ambassadors, called to reconcile with our brothers and sisters. At CSM, our mission is clear: love, serve, connect. Because of our call to ministry, we must take the steps necessary to learn from those different from ourselves and use what divides us to bring us together. Visiting the Civil Rights Institute with these groups has given us opportunities to learn more about the oppression and segregation established throughout our community not long ago.
John M. Perkins, cofounder of the Christian Community Development Association and author of “One Blood,” stated, “Our lack of unity has given the world cause to doubt the power of Jesus Christ.” The Civil Rights Institute, right in the heart of Birmingham, facilitates an atmosphere of understanding and allows intentional conversations to thrive between its visitors. We should be active in pursuing unity to bring God glory. God’s vision for His Church is true Biblical reconciliation.