I have yet to see their evaluations but I can share my first reflections.
- It is sobering to be in a minority of two. To realize that nearly everyone else has a common culture and distinctive preaching history which markedly contrasts with the white-dominated settings of my daily life. Occasionally, I made statements that were met by amused reactions that while this might be so in the white church it did not hold true in their own. Talk about the levels of pastor's authority, or about focusing on the cross to the neglect of the resurrection (too often common in the white church) revealed how different it is for them. Even more, when they shared their urban stories and experiences of oppression, I felt miles apart. Why was it sobering? - because to be in the minority is how most of these, my new friends, feel in my world, most of the time.
- Yet, my overwhelming experience in the week was of utter acceptance by the group with the strongest expressions of affirmation and involvement. When I opened the course with Scripture I was immediately enveloped by echoing 'Amens', 'Thank you Lord' ,'Oh, my Lord", as they leaned forward intently not missing a word. That responsiveness never let up. What a difference it makes when others express themselves so clearly and enthusiastically! One set book involved a lively dialog between E.K. Bailey and Warren Wiersbe (Black and White). Wiersbe admits how much white preachers have to learn from the holistic ministry of black pastors. Oh yes! As the other white (Lutheran) pastor put it -'We lived that dialog this week!'
- The wonder of expressive faith. Yes, the sheer contagion of unashamed witness is wonderful. When each student preached in class the levels of engagement were off the charts. I commented once to the famous black preacher Robert Smith (of Beeson Seminary) about how frozen and mute many white congregations are. "But I know there are feelings inside you white folks even if you don't show it", he said. Yet, what a difference if we could show more emotion?