race, intention, and relationships

interracial dialogue event
Professor Walter Stickland  -Wake Forest interracial dialogue event

“We won’t heal anything in this great divide if we’re not intentional; and all the good intention in the world will amount to nothing if we fail to invest in ongoing relationships with real people.”

Thursday afternoon I accompanied the pastors of our church (Rebekah and John) to a seminar – hosted by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – titled, “IT’S TIME: an interracial dialogue, WAKE FOREST.”

The event had three expressed purposes. First, to encourage conversation in our community. Second, for Wake Forest to be more proactive in preventing the systemic breakdown of inter-race relations that has made for such disturbing headlines in so many communities over the past few months. Third, to raise money for the local mission of Hope House and Habitat for Humanity.

Plans called for 25 tables and 200 participants. I’d say there were 125 people present.

Mayor Vivian Jones
Mayor Vivian Jones

We listened to five speakers, with a ten-minute table discussion between each presentation. Each talk proffered a sample of the standard rhetoric for such events. Mayor Vivian Jones summarized the current initiatives the city has in place, and she strongly encouraged more intentional minority participation; then we had three “sermons” that – for me – had the effect of unnecessarily narrowing the parameters of the conversation; finally, Rev. Ken Steigler gave the shortest, but most practical presentation of the afternoon.

BEST THING, BEST MOMENT: The best thing about the seminar was the talk around the tables. I had some very constructive dialogue with a pastor, a seminary student from Atlanta (he came from Zimbabwe seven years ago), a retired high-school teacher, another seminary student, a visitor from out-of-town, and a city employee.

The best moment of the event was when Dr. Holloway, halfway through his presentation, looked at someone from the Wake Forest Rotary Club and said, “I’m going to join your Club.” He will be, so far as I understand, the only representative of the African-American community.

INTENTION: The key words that surfaced, time and again, were the words “Intention” and “relationships,” and that was the thrust of Ken Steigler’s message.

“Take a piece of paper,” he said, “write down your name and your phone number, and then give it to the person of another race that you will be inviting to dinner in your home sometime in the next three weeks.”

Intention. Relationships.

My invitee and I exchanged email addresses; “making a phone-call is so old-school,” she told me.

Dr Holloway, Friendship Chapel Baptist

Over at Rebekah’s table, she looked at the man sitting next to her and they both laughed… because they’d already made dinner plans a half-hour earlier.

Long post, but here’s my short message: We won’t heal anything in this great divide if we’re not intentional; and all the good intention in the world will amount to nothing if we fail to invest in ongoing relationships with real people.

Stay tuned; I’ll let you know how this goes. In the meanwhile, what are you going to do?

Peace , in every way – DEREK

Live Like You Mean It

derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

7 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Very interesting. I am curious how well represented were the African-American and Latin communities? How was it advertised, or who was invited to attend?


    • Good questions Andres – This pretty much came out of Friendship Chapel Baptist church. Good number of African-American people present, but not representing a wide enough demographic in our community. Also no other minority representation that I could tell. This was not well publicized, and I’m not sure who exactly was invited. I just know that when Rebekah and John heard about it they wanted to be there (I kind of gate-crashed).


  2. Well, I am glad you guys got to go. I have heard Dr. Holloway before, and he has a true heart for Christ. It is great to hear that it was initiated by Friendship Chapel. These are the kind of events we need to build true community.


  3. I’m glad to know that you and Rebekah participate in community activities and social events that are open to healthy dialogue amongst all races. Happy New Year. I don’t think I’ve made any comments on your blog yet this year.


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