A Statement to the Church from Senior Pastors Tom & Lesley Thompson
1) racism is evil.
It offends God in every case. It is irrelevant whether the person you are being racist to is a saint or a terrible sinner. Racism denies the dignity of an individual made in the image of God. God sees it and he will act against it both now and on his day. In the language of Romans 1 being racist stores up wrath for yourself. If you are racist you need to repent. Please do. You can receive total forgiveness in Jesus. We all fall short of the glory of God and there is no sin which is beyond the grace of God. He can accept you and change you.
2) racism is a painful reality for many in Croydon and beyond.
We’ve been having this conversation in this church for 5+ years and we have heard and want to continue to hear. Law enforcement treatment of black people can be different from white people in a bad way. I know they are trying to address this but it is still a reality. Racism is also felt in workplaces and other places. Lesley and I have spent so much time trying to learn about this current injustice and we have been deeply moved by it. We’ve been trying to open up these conversations in PODs. You should engage with them as much as you can. We need to mourn with those who mourn.
3) a division-free church is something we will need to fight for.
All divisiveness undercuts Jesus’ vision for the church. Divisiveness is something Holy Spirit always wants to heal. Church history hasn’t been good on this - especially in western Europe and America much of the church has been very bad on racism. Even now much of the church is divided by race. Church is a school for sinners and so there will always be sin in the church. Some Christians or people exploring faith will think of others as inferior to them. We don’t reject them. We love them, we pray for conviction by Holy Spirit and try to show them the better way of the Kingdom. I think the bigger problem in church is a more subtle form of divisiveness - people gravitate to people of their own culture because it is easier. It’s just easier to spend time with people like you. I believe Jesus wants an integrated church as a demonstration of the coming Kingdom that we see in Revelation. And I tell you we are going to have to fight and keep on fighting long term to achieve that because it is much harder than mono-cultural church and even us spirit-filled saints have an inclination towards an easier life and to simplistic answers, even at the expense of the gospel.
4) God has already been forming Kingdom integration in our church.
Many of you have worked very hard for this. God has called so many of you to this church in dreams, as people he wants to use to pioneer ethnic integration in our church. Others have just felt led to help pioneer an international community. Pioneering is always exhausting. Yet you have been faithful in service, you have exuded graciousness, you have abounded in love. God has done something wonderful with your efforts, you good and faithful people. We honour you very highly indeed. The stats show that Croydon is 40% non-white. We have 40% non-white in our congregation, we have 40% non-white POD leaders, 40% non-white in our worship teams, in our trustees. The only area we don’t have 40% non-white is our staff team which is 25% non-white if we don’t include Lesley as non-white (she is very proud of her Native American heritage but to everyone looking in she is white). So we want you to know that - while there is more to do - God has already done great things among us.
5) there is much more God wants to do.
God’s vision of what he wants to do with us in terms of spreading justice is immensely beyond what we are touching now. We want you to properly hear us. We want to see more. We are “all in” on the issue of justice, of which racial equality is a central part. Now, here is again where I am feeling restrained by Holy Spirit. I don’t want to be hasty. But I do want to encourage us that if we walk in the pattern of the cross, and with an eye on Jesus’ return then we can see abundantly more than we ask or imagine. If we go with the intent to really love our neighbour then Holy Spirit will use us to bring justice in workplaces and homes and many other places where we hold influence. We must go forward in the love of Jesus. When we remain in Jesus we will produce abundant fruit.
Tom and Lesley Thompson
Croydon Vineyard Senior Pastors
In addition to the above statement we also point you to our video below "An honest conversation about race" between Leon Spence and Tom Thompson for a further discussion around this issue: