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Racial Reconciliation and the Opportunity of the Lord’s Supper

Author: James C. Black
Published: Winter-Spring 2021
In:

MD 12.1

Article Type: Peer Reviewed Article

Recent events have renewed concern over race relations in the United States and invigorated a long overdue conversation on the church’s role in racial reconciliation. This is especially pertinent given the church’s past failures and the divisions between historically white and African American congregations. This paper argues that the Lord’s Supper, as the focal point of Christian worship, identifies opportunities towards this goal of reconciliation in Christ. These include the opportunities to build community, to “re-member” the “dismembered” body of Christ, to unlearn racial prejudices through the thankful practice of seeing God’s face in one another, to confess sin and receive forgiveness, and to express the hopeful expectation of the eschaton. Specific practical suggestions are given as “conversation starters” for churches to begin their own exploration of racial reconciliation.

The death of George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old African American man, during an attempted arrest on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, MN, reignited flames of racial tension across the nation at a time when anxiety levels were already high due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, the incident was just one more example of injustice in a nation that has yet to reconcile fully the sins of its past. The accumulated effect of this event after numerous other racially charged incidents in recent years has renewed the national conversation on justice, racism, and inequality at every level of society, including the church. Of course, the church has not always lived up to its call to live out the mission of God and to be agents of reconciliation in a divided world. Today, however, it faces new and great opportunities to do so in light of these recent, troubling, and very public episodes.

The apostle Paul spoke of his work as a “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18) reflective of Christ’s ministry towards humanity: “That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:19). That is the hopeful expectation of the gospel.

The church has not always contributed positively towards the work of racial reconciliation. In fact, one might point to many instances when the church has contributed to the problem. In this essay, I will explore a small portion of the history of Churches of Christ to provide some context. I then draw on the historic commitment to the practice of the Lord’s Supper in Christian worship and explore avenues it opens up towards the goal of reconciliation.

Churches of Christ and Sins of the Past

In 1960 Martin Luther King Jr. lamented, “It is one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hour in Christian America.”1 Today, some sixty years later, not a lot has changed. The Multiracial Congregations Project led by Michael Emerson, a Rice University sociologist, defines a multiracial congregation as one where no one racial group is more than 80% of the congregation. Using that standard, Emerson has found that only 8% of all Christian congregations in the US are racially mixed to a significant degree.2 Churches of Christ are no exception. According to statistical data collected by 21st Century Christian, Churches of Christ that identify themselves as predominantly Black represent only 9.4% of the total fellowship. Even fewer congregations identify as “integrated” according to the demographic summary offered by the publishers, however, no specific data is offered.3

Church historian Doug Foster has noted that in the early days of chattel slavery in America, enslaved people were often kept from becoming Christians by their “slave owners,” who feared they would have to set their slaves free were they to become Christians. Eventually, churches began to insist that slave owners teach Christianity to their slaves, with the promise that their spiritual state would not affect their status as “property.” In the revivalism of the early nineteenth century, African Americans, both slave and free, were baptized in large numbers.4

The seeds of racial division were sown early in the Stone-Campbell Movement. Early Restoration leaders disagreed over the issue of slavery. Some, like Barton W. Stone, called for its abolition,5 while most argued for the status quo, especially in the South. Alexander Campbell attempted a middle ground in his sporadic comments on slavery in the Christian Baptist and the Millennial Harbinger. His hesitancy to take a side either as an abolitionist or proponent of slavery earned him criticism from both sides. It did, however, reveal his chief concern of unity.6 He wrote, “To preserve unity of spirit among Christians of the South and of the North is my grand object, and for that purpose I am endeavoring to show how the New Testament does not authorize an interference or legislation upon the relation of master and slave, nor does it in letter or spirit authorize Christians to make it a term of communion.”7 Though it is said that Campbell privately disagreed with slavery, his attempts to maintain unity within the movement did little to advance the cause of the enslaved individual.8 By 1851, a report of the America and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society recorded “Campbellites” as owning 101,000 slaves, many of whom learned the gospel and became members of white congregations.9 They were as in other religious fellowships forced to sit apart from their white brothers and sisters.

Within a few short years after the end of the Civil War, African American believers began forming their own, separate congregations. As these congregations developed, increasingly African American converts were encouraged to become members of those congregations rather than their white counterparts.10 David Lipscomb stood as a counter voice to the prevailing sentiments of his day. He labeled segregation and racial prejudice a sin and an outrage that should not be tolerated. He insisted churches that condoned such a spirit had forfeited their claim to be the church of God.11 Lipscomb’s voice crying in the wilderness went largely unheeded, however. For the most part, Black preachers were kept from opportunities to preach in white pulpits and Christian schools barred Black students from enrollment. It was not long before two separate fellowships had emerged.12

African American congregations increasingly developed apart from white congregations. In the first half of the twentieth century, key leaders began to emerge. Marshall Keeble (1878–1968) soon became one of the most influential leaders within African American churches. He believed that key to the success of evangelism among African Americans was education and greater partnership with white brethren. Keeble courted relationships with influential leaders from among white Churches of Christ, while traveling the country preaching the gospel and baptizing thousands. Most famously, his relationship with A. M. Burton, founder of Life and Casualty Insurance of Nashville, TN, allowed him to fund much of his own evangelistic work as well as the work of other black evangelists. He founded the Nashville Christian Institute in 1940 in order to educate young Black preachers.

Despite the good produced by partnerships like Keeble’s with white brethren, the relationships were hardly symmetrical. Wes Crawford, in his insightful book Shattering the Illusion, demonstrates that the relationships between whites and African Americans were paternalistic and unequal. Such attitudes galvanized the African American church into further separation and independence from white congregations–the effects of which are quite obvious today.13

The racist attitude of white Churches of Christ in the twentieth century is further confirmed when one considers the history of its dominant institutions, its publications, and its schools. Writing in the Gospel Advocate in 1931, A. B. Lipscomb, a nephew of David Lipscomb, wrote this rather patronizing commendation to describe the work of Marshall Keeble and his students: “The work among the colored people here was sponsored and financed by the white disciples. We have never made a better investment for the Lord nor any which brought such quick and happy results. . . . This means that we now have better farm hands, better porters, better cooks, better housemaids than ever before.”14 Even more indicting was the attitude expressed by Foy E. Wallace Jr., in the March 1941 issue of the Bible Banner. He berated white preachers who attended “Negro meetings” and praised the Black preachers for their work. He concluded, “If any of the white brethren get worked up over what I have said and want to accuse me of being jealous of the negro preachers, I will just tell them now that I don’t even want to hold a meeting for any bunch of brethren who think that any negro is a better preacher than I am!”15 The Christian schools of the movement also did little to affect the status quo. In 1954 the Supreme Court passed the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision mandating schools across the nation desegregate. At that time not one of the schools associated with Churches of Christ allowed African Americans to enroll. Even after the decision, it would take almost a decade for the schools to comply. Several were criticized for eventually making the change solely for the purpose of receiving federal aid.16 An embittering turning point came in 1967 when Keeble’s Nashville Christian Institute closed its doors permanently. After Keeble passed away, the school’s majority-white board made the decision to close the school, sell its assets, and distribute the funds to the recently desegregated David Lipscomb College rather than to the only other remaining predominantly African American college associated with Churches of Christ, Southwestern Christian College in Texas. This became a source of bitterness and deepened the divide between what was, essentially, two independent fellowships.17

As the Civil Right Movement swept across America and challenged the status quo everywhere, Churches of Christ were largely apathetic. While there were a few outspoken voices, predominantly from African American preachers, by and large Churches of Christ remained on the sidelines. Keeble, himself, was often disapproving of young Black preachers who were too outspoken, even of Martin Luther King Jr.

I have offered this brief rehearsal of history in order to acknowledge the hurt and division that exists today because of the sin of racism. True reconciliation is only possible if the truth of the brokenness, however painful, is realized. Once acknowledged, the church must then turn to the reconciling work of Christ, celebrated in Christian worship and commemorated in the practice of the Lord’s Supper, which can heal even the most hostile of relationships.

Christian Worship and Reconciliation

Christian worship provides one of the best contexts for Christians to unlearn racist patterns of thought and action and to relearn new ways of thinking and acting in the world.18 While the worship service has, sadly, often been one of the most segregated spaces in our society, often confirming and even re-enforcing patterns and practices of racism, Emmanuel Katongole argues for Christians to view worship as “a site for imagining and embodying concrete alternatives to the dominant cultural patterns and values.” In other words, worship, properly understood, provides Christians with wonderful new possibilities for living out a different reality, a kingdom reality, and to call the world to a different vision of the future.19 Even more specifically, the Lord’s Supper, with its emphasis on confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation affords opportunities for the church to be honest about the sins of its past and to demonstrate a renewed “kingdom-focused” call for justice to the world.

In Churches of Christ, nothing has been more important to worship than the practice of the Lord’s Supper.20 Referred to variously as communion, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, the sacrament of the Table stands as the centerpiece of Christian worship. In 1982, the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches penned and distributed an ecumenical document known as Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM). It has become a significant statement in discussions regarding the Eucharist between different faith communities. The key theological principles discussed in the document illustrate the implications for and inspiration toward reconciliation the Supper provides.21 In speaking of the Eucharist as the “Communion of the Faithful,” it states:

The eucharistic celebration demands reconciliation and sharing among all those regarded as brothers and sisters in the one family of God and is a constant challenge in the search for appropriate relationships in social, economic, and political life (Matt. 5:23f; 1 Cor. 10:16f; 1 Cor. 11:20-22; Gal. 3:28). All kinds of injustice, racism, separation, and lack of freedom are radically challenged when we share in the body and blood of Christ. . . . As participants in the eucharist, therefore, we prove inconsistent if we are not actively participating in this ongoing restoration of the world’s situation and the human condition.22

The Opportunities of the Lord’s Supper

Mark Powell emphasizes the important need to recount the gospel story consistently, regularly and creatively in Christian worship. The Lord’s Supper is a prime opportunity to do so.23 Since the gospel is so rich and multi-faceted, and since the meaning of the Lord’s Supper is so rich and multi-faceted, it behooves those who preside at the Table to think creatively about how to emphasize its various depths and dimensions. The following are offered as possible areas of exploration and emphasis in the hopes of utilizing the practice of the Supper to highlight the goal of racial reconciliation.

1. The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to build community.

Jesuit Priest Brian Lennon writes out of his experience witnessing the conflict in his native country of Northern Ireland between Republicans and Unionists during the 1990s and sees hope for reconciliation in the Eucharist: “In the Eucharist, then, we are called to build a human community on earth, to make peace with our enemies, and to include sinners in our community (in part because we are sinners ourselves), and we cannot relate to the God revealed by Jesus Christ unless we do this.”24 Lennon unpacks two key theological principles that undergird his hope for political and religious reconciliation in Ireland: (1) The Eucharist is essentially a community event as the community of the church is brought by Christ into the presence of God; (2) The God into whose presence Christ brings the church is a community of Three Persons. The community is strengthened by looking at the nature of God as a Triune God, three Persons in one divine essence. This point is not merely academic. It impacts our understanding of the importance of human relationships and community.25

Because the Lord’s Supper is a community-building practice, it serves to strengthen koinonia, the relationships shared within the church.26 That the Supper is intended to be a community-building event is evident in Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. Paul has “no praise” for what he has heard of the Corinthians’ practice of the Supper (1 Cor. 11:17). Rather, he writes to rebuke and correct their malpractice. It seems that as the church gathers for the Supper, likely within the context of the agape meal, there is clear division among them (1 Cor 11:18). It is this division that is contrary to the nature of the Supper. “It is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk” (1 Cor 11:20–21). The problem, as Paul identifies it, is the clear lack of community-building that is taking place, which runs contrary to the meaning of the Supper itself.27 Just the opposite is occurring, in fact. Ferguson points out that the Supper is a community act, not a private one. Thus, one should make “every effort” to come to the Table in harmony with brothers and sisters of the community.28

2. The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity to “re-member” the “dis-membered” body of Christ.

Shoop and McClintock Fulkerson point out that, at the Table, Christians come in real bodies and, as they do so, it becomes all too evident that all are not represented equally. “Yet when real bodies gather at the Table there is a thoroughgoing dissonance that signals rupture and betrayal as well as particularity and possibility. Estranged relationships are allowed to splinter—and instead of all nations and tongues at the Table, we look around and see people just like us.”29 The Table has a way of revealing the church’s “contorted, truncated, dis-membered Body.”30 Thus, their term “re-membering” is a way of describing the Table’s function of allowing participants to come back together, reconciling themselves with one another. Jesus emphasized the importance of reconciliation between broken relationships in the Sermon on the Mount. “So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt 5:23–24). Jesus may have in mind the context of Temple worship; however, in the context of Christian worship, it is the Table, not the altar, which seems to be the most relevant point of application. This teaching reveals the importance of relational integrity within the fellowship of the church and the necessity for reconciliation in Christian worship.

In Galatians 2, Paul addresses another issue. Writing to the Galatians, he recounts his encounter with Peter some time earlier. “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party (Gal 2:11–12). The occasion was a meal together in Antioch and the fellowship, or lack thereof, that Peter was demonstrating to certain Gentile Christians. It is possible— perhaps likely—that the meal referenced here included the Lord’s Supper. Paul accuses Peter of hypocrisy in his refusal to eat with the Gentile brothers. Paul saw the moment as an opportunity to “re-member” the “dis-membered” body of Christ by calling out Peter for his hypocrisy. It is not typical to expose one’s (and certainly not another’s!) sin in traditional gatherings around the Lord’s Table today. And yet, Paul’s bold reprimand to no less than Peter underlines the importance of relationships within the congregational body around the table..

Shoop and McClintock Fulkerson also look at the Lord’s Supper through the lens of traumatic memory, which comes because of the ills and injustices suffered from past experiences. They view the Supper as an opportunity where traumatic memory can give way to transformative memory.31 It becomes a moment to remember the stories, the story of the gospel as well as the stories of past injustices and hurts, through the communal acts of sharing, proclaiming, ingesting, and receiving from God the power to form and transform.32

3. The Lord’s Supper helps participants unlearn racial prejudices through the thankful practice of seeing God’s face in one another.

“So, how do we unlearn our racial prejudices and open our imaginations to God?” asks Michael Battle. His answer: by church members looking at creation and, specifically, at the face of God in one another.33 “To see God’s face in each other,” he continues, “we must (re)discover eucharistic reconciliation, that miraculous reality in which the Christian community may find overall agreement. God will be found not only in our images, but also in the image of our neighbor.”34 Battle’s contention manifests the theological principle of imago Dei, that mankind is created in the image of God (Gen 1:26). The Table of the Lord is an opportunity for individuals to come around the common table and to celebrate the communion shared one with another. It is the place of conversation and fellowship. It is a place to share thoughts and ideas. It is a place to look into each other’s eyes and appreciate the good that is seen in one another.35

It is not a coincidence that it was at the moment of “breaking bread” together that the two on the way to Emmaus recognized Jesus for who he was (Luke 24:13–30). They had encountered this strange “visitor to Jerusalem” along the way, and at the invitation to sit down at table with them, the visitor “took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (v. 30). It was at that moment their eyes were opened and they recognized the face of Jesus. Eucharist literally means “thankfulness,” and Battle suggests that the Supper provides an opportunity to do just that, to “give thanks” for for the opportunity to see God’s face in one another.

While typically Churches of Christ have emphasized the commemorative aspect of the Supper, there are those who have also recognized this more communal dimension. Alexander Campbell, for example, saw more in the Supper.36 He wrote, “Each disciple, in handling the symbols to his fellow disciple says, in effect, ‘You are my brother. . . . You have owned my Lord as your Lord, my people as your people. . . . Let us, then, renew our strength, remember our King, and hold fast our boasted hope unshaken to the end.’”37

4. The Lord’s Supper is an opportunity for confession to be made and forgiveness to be received.38

“The explicit promise of forgiveness is the gift of the risen Christ. It is proclaimed in scripture and realized in ritual and symbol,” writes Lawrence Frankovich.39 He sees this renewed emphasis on reconciliation in proclamation, prayer, and the Eucharist as a welcome sign that Christians of all traditions are rediscovering the need to celebrate the gift of forgiveness.

What better place to recognize and celebrate the gift of forgiveness than around the Table? When Jesus sat with his disciples around the Table, he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28). As Christians gather to participate in the Lord’s Supper, it is certainly a moment of reflection upon this marvelous gift, but it is also a moment for confession as well. Frankovich rightly sees a need, not only for celebration of forgiveness in the Supper, but also an emphasis on confession as a means towards reconciliation. “Those of us whose tradition it is to celebrate a sacrament of forgiveness (in addition to eucharist and baptism) also gain from these reflections on the eucharist as reconciliation. When an offense so grievous has been committed that an explicit apology is needed, a sacramental confession is necessary. Good psychology requires an explicit apology or a confession from one who actually breaks a relationship.”40

The Catholic church, at least in the past, has placed a strong emphasis on the sacrament of reconciliation (or confession). Perhaps it is time that Churches of Christ place a stronger emphasis on confession and use the opportunity of the Supper as a moment to for sin to be confessed and forgiveness to be offered.

5. The Lord’s Supper expresses the hopeful expectation of the Eschaton

One dimension of the Supper that is often missing from the devotions around the Table, particularly in Churches of Christ, is its forward orientation.41 The future dimension, however, is clear from Jesus’s own instructions at the Table. “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt 26:29). The BEM reminds us, “The Eucharist opens up the vision of the divine rule which has been promised as the final renewal of creation and is a foretaste of it.”42 It is a glimpse into the future, a future envisioned in Revelation 7 where representatives from every nation (i.e., ethnic group), tribe, people, and language come together around the throne of the Lamb (v. 9). The word translated nation in most English translations is the word ethnous and refers not necessarily to political entities but to people groups (i.e., ethnic groups).

This eschatological vision of the future, which is prefigured in the Table, however, is meant to give greater meaning to the practice today. Orthodox scholar John Zizioulas writes, “Although the catholicity of the Church is ultimately an eschatological reality, its nature is revealed and realistically apprehended here and now in the eucharist.”43 As the church looks forward to the eschaton at the Table, it is an opportunity to imagine such a scene today, believers of all ethnicities coming together to share in the riches and blessings of oneness in Christ. It is a glorious hope indeed. Is it a hope that might offer some encouragement and empowerment to overcome the differences that divide and the hurts, past and present, that are so much a part of our culture? Is it a hope that might offer some opportunity towards greater reconciliation? The church would be well served to exhaust every effort in trying.

Conclusion

Martha L. Moore-Keish begins her chapter on eschatology and Eucharist in A More Profound Alleluia by recounting the final scene from a movie, Places in the Heart.44 It is a moving scene which depicts the possibilities of the Lord’s Supper envisioned here. By the time of the final scene, the movie has told the story of a widowed mother in a small Texas town set during the Depression. Against the odds, with the help of a transient African American man and a blind boarder, she manages to plant and harvest her forty acres of cotton and keep her home. Along the way, characters in the movie engage in murder, adultery, theft, assault, and mean-spiritedness. The final scene shows a congregation gathered for Communion. As the bread and cup are passed, the camera pans for the audience to see one face after another: first, anonymous members of the community; then the widow’s sister, who passes the tray to her cheating husband; then members of the KKK, who share the elements with the Black man they had earlier beaten up; then the children; then to the widow herself, who finally passes it to her husband, the town sheriff who had been shot and killed at the beginning of the film. He finally passes the sacraments to the young Black man who shot him with the words, “The peace of Christ.”

This final scene has much to teach the Christian community about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and, perhaps, even more about the possibilities of reconciliation. Those from diverse backgrounds and different ethnicities sit together. Those who were at one time enemies share a common meal. Those who look and speak differently from one another find commonality in their shared love for Christ. It is the eschatalogical vision glimpsed “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10).

Suggested Actions

As a minister who has spent the last twenty-five years preaching to predominantly white congregations in Churches of Christ, I feel as if I am the least qualified person to speak on these issues. As my awareness has risen, however, I am becoming more firm in my own commitment, at least, not to be a part of the problem. My sincere desire, rather, is to be a greater voice towards solutions. The following ideas are offered as a starting point for congregations to begin the conversation as to how they might more fully embody the mission of God in bringing believers of all ethnicities together around the Table of the Lord.

  • Arrange a joint worship service between two or more congregations of diverse racial makeup in the community and make the Lord’s Supper the focal point. Lay out a theology as to how the Table facilitates reconciliation.
  • During the Communion devotion, challenge members of the congregation to think of relationships in their life that need to be mended, and then challenge them to “go and be reconciled.”
  • Make the Lord’s Supper the central focus of a worship service and use the sermon to teach on one of the various theological opportunities discussed here.
  • Invite congregants to look at the person next to them as they partake of the sacraments and speak a word of blessing or an observation of something godly that is appreciated in the other.
  • Practice the Lord’s Supper at a time outside of the regularly scheduled corporate worship, perhaps in a devotional setting in someone’s home. Allow the different setting to establish a fresh atmosphere for the building up of the community.
  • Use the communion devotion as a time for corporate confession. Acknowledge the racist behaviors of the past, even of past generations, in the congregation and offer words of repentance prior to partaking of the Supper together.

“Lord, in sharing this sacrament may we receive your forgiveness and be brought together in unity and peace.”45

Jim Black has served as the preaching minister for the Washington Street Church of Christ in Fayetteville, TN, since 2001. He is also an adjunct faculty member and director of missions at Riverside Christian Academy. He holds a BA and MDiv from Lipscomb University and is currently pursuing a DMin in Transformational Leadership at Harding School of Theology. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, he and his wife, Celeste, have four boys, Andy, David, Michael and Daniel.

1 Martin Luther King, Jr. “The Most Segregated Hour” on Meet the Press, NBC, April 17, 1960, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q881g1L_d8.

2 Michael O. Emerson and Karen Chai Kim, “Multiracial Congregations: An Analysis of Their Development and a Typology,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42 no. 2 (2003), 217–27.

3 Carl Royster, “Profile of the Churches,” Churches of Christ in the United States (Nashville: 21st Century Christian, 2009), 16.

4 Doug Foster, “Justice, Racism, and Churches of Christ: A Historical View,” in Unfinished Reconciliation, ed. Gary Holloway & John York, Kindle ed. (Abilene: ACU Press, 2013), Kindle loc. 1050.

5 D. Newell Williams, “Pursuit of Justice: The Antislavery Pilgrimage of Barton W. Stone,” Encounter 62 no. 1 (Winter 2001), 1–23.

6 Wes Crawford, Shattering the Illusion: How African American Churches of Christ Moved from Segregation to Independence (Abilene: ACU Press, 2013), 32.

7 Alexander Campbell, “Our Position to American Slavery,” Millennial Harbinger 2, no. 2 (February 1845): 195.

8 For more information on Campbell’s view, see D. Newell Williams, Douglas A. Foster, and Paul M. Blowers, eds., The Stone-Campbell Movement: A Global History (Nashville: Chalice Press, 2013), 35–36.

9 Foster, Kindle loc. 1535.

10 For a fuller discussion of this history, see Doug Foster, “Justice, Racism, and Churches of Christ: A Historical View,” in Unfinished Reconciliation, ed. Gary Holloway and John York (Abilene: ACU Press, 2013), Kindle loc. 1484–1715.

11 Ibid., Kindle loc. 1552.

12 For a much more detailed and insightful account of the development of the African American churches within churches of Christ, see Edward J. Robinson’s Hard Fighting Soldiers: A History of African American Churches of Christ (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2019).

13 Crawford, 177.

14 Foster, Kindle loc. 1563.

15 Quoted in ibid., Kindle loc. 1563.

16 Crawford, 43.

17 Ibid., ch. 4.

18 Emmanuel Katongole, “Greeting: Beyond Racial Reconciliation,” in The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, ed. Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 69.

19 Ibid., 73.

20 For more information on the important role the Lord’s Supper has played in Churches of Christ, see Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).

21 John Mark Hicks, Enter the Water, Come to the Table (Abilene: ACU Press, 2014), 146.

23 Mark E. Powell, “Proclaiming the Gospel at the Table,” Christian Studies: Scholarship for the Church 30 (2018): 97.

24 Brian Lennon, “The Eucharist, Reconciliation and Politics,” in Windows on Social Spirituality (Dublin: Columbia Press, 2003), 67.

25 Ibid., 68.

26 Richard Oster, 1 Corinthians, College Press NIV Commentary (Joplin, MO: College Press, 1995), 242.

27 For a fuller discussion on the meaning of Table Fellowship in the first century, see John Mark Hicks, Johnny Melton, and Bobby Valentine, A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly as Transforming Encounter (Abilene: Leafwood Publishers, 2007), 66–67.

28 Ferguson, 256.

29 Shoop & McClintock Fulkerson, 145.

30 Ibid., 151.

31 Ibid., 154.

32 For a fuller discussion of the myth of “traumatic memory” and explanation of “re-membering” the body see Mary McClintock Fulkerson and Marcia W. Mount Shoop, A Body Broken, a Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, and Eucharist in White-Dominant Churches (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2015), 1–3.

33 Michael Battle, “Eucharistic Reconciliation,” in Seeing God in Each Other, ed. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook (Harrisburg: Morehouse Publishing, 2006), 32.

34 Ibid., 32.

35 Ibid., 33.

36 See Mark E. Powell, John Mark Hicks, and Greg McKinzie, Discipleship in Community: A Theological Vision for the Future (Abilene: ACU Press, 2020), 121.

37 Alexander Campbell, The Christian System reprint (1839; repr., Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1980), 274.

38 There has long been an emphasis in the Catholic church on the giving and receiving of forgiveness in association with the Eucharist. The recognition of that connection is beginning to spread to other religious bodies as well. See Brennan Hill, “Celebrating Eucharist and Reconciliation,” Religion Teacher’s Journal 31 (1997): 6.

39 Lawrence Frankovich, “The Eucharist, Our Prayer of Reconciliation,” Liturgy 1, no. 4 (1981): 37.

40 Ibid., 38.

41 Stanley Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 699.

42 BEM, 14.

43 John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2004), 145.

44 Martha Moore-Keish, “Eucharist and Eschatology,” in A More Profound Alleluia, ed. Leanne Van Dyk (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 109.

45 Prayer after Communion, Third Sunday of Lent, Year C, quoted in Frankovich, 38.

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