A church in suburban Chicago is putting a woke spin on its Lenten fast, announcing that it is “fasting from whiteness.”
First United Church of Oak Park announced that it was celebrating Lent, the 40-day season commemorating the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the desert before he began his public ministry, by giving up liturgical orders and music written by white people.
“For Lent this year, First United is doing a mix of ‘giving something up’ and ‘taking something on,’” the church said in a statement on its website, via the New York Post. “In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people. Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more. For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins.” The Church also posted a sign on the front lawn of the building, per Turning Point USA, which said that it was “[building] our worship life around the voices of Black people, indigenous people, and people of color.”
First United announced the move at the commencement of Lent, during its Sunday worship service on March 6. First United Associate Pastor of Education Lydia Mulkey explained the fast before the congregation. “Lent is a time of preparation, as we approach the mystery of Easter, and Lent is a time when we re-prioritize, and think about what is most important,” Mulkey said, adding that Christians traditionally choose a fast to commemorate the Lenten season.”The fast that we are choosing this year at First United may not be one that you have chosen before. It may seem like a strange kind of fast. We are fasting from whiteness…. Now, in this fast from whiteness, of course I cannot change the color of my skin or the way that that allows me to move through the world, but I can change what I listen to, whose voice I prioritize. And so that is kind of the plan for our worship services, through Lent, that we would fast for a time from prioritizing white voices, and that we would use the music and poetry of black, indigenous, and people of color, and see what the [Holy] Spirit might do among us.”
First United issued an updated statement Wednesday, reacting to previous news coverage and defending its decision. “Our Lenten theme has spurred considerable discussion, with some people questioning the message,” the church wrote. “In practice with the Lenten spiritual discipline of fasting, our intent was to lay aside our usual frames of reference and open ourselves to hearing the Gospel message through the voices of Black People, Indigenous People, and People of Color. Our worship services in Lent have been diverse and beautiful. We pray that God oils the hinges of our hearts’ doors that they might swing open gently to receive the good news of Christ’s resurrection, which we all await at the culmination of Lent.”
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