Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jan 22
2021

Continuing the Conversation: A Forum on Racial Harmony this Sunday

Event, Racial Reconciliation, Teaching | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Downtown Cornerstone,

Conversations on topics of race, justice, and racial reconciliation can be challenging, even within the church. It can be hard to know where to start, hard to approach sensitive topics that are politically charged, and hard to love those whom we disagree with. Yet, such conversations are an essential step in growing in our ability to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2) and building one another up in love (1 Thes. 5:11), and especially so, as we are an increasingly diverse people in an increasingly diverse city.

Over the last few years, we've had many opportunities to engage topics of racial injustice and racial reconciliation, including pastoral notes, forums, writings, sermon illustrations, and book studies. We want to continue creating space for us as a people to think biblically about these topics—understanding the sins of racism (Jas. 2:8-9), understanding the equality and value of all humans as God's image-bearers (Gen. 1:27), and understanding God's heart for the marginalized (Isa. 58:6-11). We want to grow in our ability to speak the truth in love with each other (Eph. 4:15-16) and seek to demonstrate love toward one another as brothers and sisters in Christ (Jn. 13:34-35).

A Forum on Racial Harmony | This Sunday at 1PM

This Sunday, as part of our New Year Essentials sermon series, Pastor Adam will be preaching on 1 John 4:13-21, highlighting the need for God's love to shape our racial reconciliation. That afternoon at 1pm, we're going to host a Forum on Racial Harmony, as an opportunity to continue the conversation with one another, anchored in the text and sermon that morning. This forum will be a combination of small group discussions and larger Q&A with some of our elders. Whether you've been engaging in this conversation for decades or you're just getting started, I'd highly encourage you to join us on Sunday.

REGISTER HERE

Additional Opportunities to Engage With Us

#1 Book Study
Following the forum, in February, we will be starting a new book study discussing Dr. George Yancey’s book Beyond Racial Gridlock. This book has been helpful to many in our body as we seek to understand each other’s perspectives on racial issues and work together to create a distinctly Christian approach. If you’re interested in joining this study, please fill out this brief form by Friday, 1/29.

#2 Church Center Group
We have a Racial Reconciliation group on Church Center to help us connect, share and discuss content, and ways to take action together. Join the conversation by signing up here.

#3 Racial Reconciliation Resources
We've also assembled a number of helpful resources on our Racial Reconciliation page. You can find past DCC sermons, pastoral notes, and blog posts on topics of race, as well as recommended books, podcasts, and articles from a variety of gospel-centered voices.

I am praying that our church would be built up through this event and our continuing dialogue as we listen, love, and act together. I hope you’ll join the conversation!

In Christ,
Pastor Justin

Jun 19
2020

Upcoming Opportunities to Pray With Us

Prayer, Racial Reconciliation | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

With so much happening in our world, I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:5b-7, as a reminder to take my anxieties to God in prayer:

The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage has a remarkable anchor: The Lord is at hand. It is because God is personal, loving, and near to us that we can cast our cares on him and receive the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. The instruction for us is simple: in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. In other words, we are to pray—especially in response to our anxieties.

Today, June 19th, commemorated as Juneteenth, is the anniversary of the effective end of slavery in the US. 155 years later, much has changed, but we continue to lament ongoing racial injustice. We yearn to see people of all nations, from all tribes and peoples and languages, come to know and treasure the gospel of Jesus Christ. And while we wait for Christ’s return, we cry out with all creation to be set free from our bondage to decay and await the fulfillment of our adoption as sons of God.

In the midst of a global pandemic, and with ongoing racial tensions in the US and political unrest in our city that doesn’t know the Savior, there is much to pray for. Consider praying with us in any or all of these upcoming opportunities:

  • Saturday, June 20th, at 4PM: The Gospel Coalition (TGC) is hosting “A Night of Lament for Racial Justice”, a guided time of prayer and singing that will be simulcast on multiple platforms. Learn more…
  • Monday, June 22nd, at 7PM: Seattle area pastors will be gathering publicly as followers of Jesus to affirm the inherent dignity and value of all people, especially those in the black community who have been historically marginalized and oppressed. In solidarity, we will fast and pray together for unity in our city as we speak from Scripture. Churches are invited to join in person at Gasworks Park, or pray with us remotely. If you’re interested in attending with us, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org.
  • Sunday, June 28th, at 5PM: DCC’s corporate Prayer Night, hosted via videoconferencing, will be an evening of prayer, scripture, and song, asking our Father to do what only He can do in our lives, our church, in our city and the world. Learn more…
  • Anytime: We are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle, alone or in small socially distanced groups, praying for the welfare of our city from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this.

Let’s continue to come before the Lord in humble dependence together.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

Jun 8
2020

Engaging Conversations on Race with DCC

Community, Prayer, Racial Reconciliation | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Pastoral Note

Friends,

Recent events highlighting ongoing racial injustice have moved many to want to learn and act positively to address racism and injustice from a biblical perspective. To that end, we want to continue facilitating meaningful, faithful, and loving discussion with each other, while encouraging one another toward Gospel-centered action.

As Christians, we know that every human is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), who is the source of human value and dignity. Yet, we live in a fallen world, marred by the sin of racism, that devalues others on the basis of their skin color.

In American history, this has tragically led to ongoing violence and inequality for African Americans and other minorities—which is not the way it will be in heaven (Rev. 7:9), not the way God desires it to be on earth (Ps. 37:28), nor in his church (James 2:1-13).

Therefore, we’re bringing together a number of opportunities this summer to help us engage in these issues with others in DCC. Our hope in these sometimes difficult conversations is to draw close to one another in love, founded in our unity in Christ, in order that we may live out the commandments to love one another (John 13:34) and to be salt and light to our city (Matt. 5:13-16)—a testimony to the world around us of God’s love and his power at work among us.

Here are four practical steps you can take with us:

#1 PRAY

Flowing from our recent day of fasting and prayer, we are encouraging our body to get out and pray for Seattle. Our desire is to see our people gather in groups of 5 or so walking the streets and neighborhoods where they live with one goal—pray for the welfare of that place you live, from Isaiah 59:14-16. See our prayer walking guide for more details on how to join us in this!

#2 DISCUSS

This Sunday, June 14th, we’re hosting an event called the UNDIVIDED Forum, which will be a chance to open God’s word and discuss with others the biblical call toward racial reconciliation, especially within the church. Read more and register HERE.

#3 READ

This summer, I will be hosting a book discussion of Divided by Faith (a look at why the church in America is racially divided) followed by United by Faith (a look at multi-ethnic churches as a solution). If you’re interested in joining this book discussion, please email me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org

#4 CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION

We’ve created the Racial Reconciliation group on Church Center as a place for us to post content, discuss topics of race, and share opportunities to take action together. Read more and join HERE.

Let’s continue to pursue mercy and justice as we love and pray for one another in all humility, gentleness, and patience.

Blessings,
Pastor Justin

Jun 4
2020

A Prayer of Lament

Prayer, Racial Reconciliation

A Prayer of Lament

On Sunday, May 31st, we took some time during our morning gathering to pray and lament over the events that have taken place in the last several weeks in our nation and in our city. Below is the prayer that was prayed by Pastor David, and which we wanted to make available, as we continue to grieve and process the unfolding events in the days and weeks to come.

____________

Father, many of us are coming to you this morning with very heavy, burdened, fatigued, sorrowful, lamenting, frustrated, and maybe even angry hearts.

It has been a rough week, really a rough few weeks—especially for many of our minority brothers and sisters—as we again see and feel the weight and brokenness of this world on full display.

From the heartbreaking and gut-wrenching videos of murder we witnessed in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, to peaceful protests for justice being hijacked for the destruction of our city and many cities around the country, to the ongoing pandemic and the racial targeting of our Asian-American brothers and sisters…

Lord, we can’t even open up our phones, turn on the TV, or even step outside some of our doors, without being reminded of the brokenness of sin in our world.

And if we’re honest, we’re tempted maybe to emotionally shut down, throw in the proverbial towel, and look for a way of escape.

And yet Lord, we know this season is not a surprise to you. In fact, you tell us in your word, that because of sin there will be “men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” and are filled with every kind of “evil, greed, depravity…envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice” (Rom. 1:18, 28-29).

And our hearts cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, O’ Lord?!” (Ps. 13)

  • Father, our hearts long for restoration, for your redemption, and for your justice and righteousness to prevail.
  • We long to see an end to the racial violence that continues to separate our country and our world.
  • We long to see leaders, politicians, and those placed in power, rule with justice and equity.
  • We long to see your justice prevail in the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many many more.
  • Father, we know, deep down, that what we ultimately long for is you!

And this season is a stark reality, that there is no hope in this world apart from you.

There is no hope for the human heart, except for it to be radically transformed by your grace.

So Father, our hearts grieve and lament. We lament, because our world is not as it should be.

And we lament because we are not what we should be.

And yet, this we call to mind, and therefore we have hope…“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23-24)

And we know that hope in you is not a vague feeling that we “hope things will one day get better”, but a confident expectation that your Gospel is big enough to heal the brokenness of the human heart.

It is big enough to free us from our own biases, our own blind spots, our own indifference, our own self-righteousness, our own unrighteous anger—and ultimately our rejection of you as Savior and Lord of our life.

So, Lord, we come humbly to you this morning and ask:

  • That you would comfort the black community that is hurting right now—whether that be in and through us as a church, or other churches in Seattle, or and maybe most of all, by and through your Spirit. Remind them that you see them, you know their hurt, their concerns, and their pain. And as Psalms 23 reminds us, that even though we go through the valley of the shadow of death, you are with us, and your rod and your staff comfort us.
  • That you would bring comfort to the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, as they are deeply grieving right now. We ask that you would help them see that you are their ultimate vindication.
  • For repentance, salvation, and justice for the officers and others involved in these killings.
  • For wisdom for Minneapolis, Seattle, and other city leaders around the country. We ask that you would allow them to rule and lead with wisdom, equity, and justice, and that those in positions of authority would fight for reform where needed. And we ask that you would carefully guide every person involved in the judicial process of all of these cases—so that truth and justice would prevail.
  • That you would give us a deep love and empathy for our neighbors. That we wouldn’t write all this off as political, but be willing to listen and learn. Be willing to hear and console, and be willing to encourage and exhort.
  • That you would make us a bold people, who are willing to stand for truth, stand for justice, and stand with those who are oppressed—not because we’re supposed to, but because we love our neighbor.
  • For other area churches and pastors who are already knee-deep in pastoring through a pandemic, we ask that you would help them love and lead their people well this morning; that you would give them wisdom in their words, to point everyone back to you as the ultimate answer to the deepest problems we are faced with.
  • And finally Lord, we ask that you would protect the unity of the Church, our church, and not let another gospel of nationalism, personal autonomy, good deeds, activism, or even altruism, to strip the true Gospel of its Saving power.

Lord, we long for the day, where you tell us in Revelation, that your work will come to an end. Where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death, no more racism, no more injustice, no more Covid-19, no more suffering… and where there will be perfect peace.

God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

Until then, Father, protect us from wanting the Kingdom without the King. Protect us from not caring about the plight of our neighbors who are lost without you, and help us keep our eyes fixed on you.

Make us teachable and willing to learn, Keep us humble. Give us eyes to see, and ears to hear, the truths that free us from bondage to sin, and give us life in you.

And we pray all these things, in your name, the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.