The full episode transcript is below.
You are listening to the Be the Bridge podcast with Latasha Morrison.
Latasha Morrison 0:06
[intro] How are you guys doing today? It’s exciting!
Each week, Be the Bridge podcast tackles subjects related to race and culture with the goal of bringing understanding.
Latasha Morrison 0:17
[intro] …but I’m gonna do it in the spirit of love.
We believe understanding can move us toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial unity. Latasha Morrison is the founder of Be the Bridge, which is an organization responding to racial brokenness and systemic injustice in our world. This podcast is an extension of our vision to make sure people are no longer conditioned by a racialized society but grounded in truth. If you have not hit the subscribe button, please do so now. Without further ado, let’s begin today’s podcast. Oh, and stick around for some important information at the end.
Latasha Morrison 0:51
Oh man, I am so excited Be the Bridge community. This is a voice that I have listened to for awhile. We met back in Seattle, Washington a few years ago and we’ve stayed connected. And I just have the honor to introduce her to the community. Again, she’s done some stuff in our BIPOC group before, but I want you to meet her. And she is a phenomenal woman. Her name is Inés Velásquez-McBride and she is a pastor, a preacher, a reconciler, a speaker. She’s the co-lead of a church entitled The Church We Hope For. How beautiful is that name? The Church We Hope For. That is our prayer. She’s planted a multi-ethnic church with our co-pastor Bobby Harrison in Southern California. Inés earned her Master of Divinity at Fuller and has 20 years of combined ministry experience in church planning and pastoral staff leadership and multi-ethnic churches. She could really speak into multi-ethnic churches. She was the recipient of the Ian Pitts Watson Preaching Award at Fuller Seminary and has spoken in local church pulpits across the nation, as well as national and regional conferences, sharing her passion for multi-ethnic church planning, racial reconciliation, justice, all the things that we love, and the full inclusion of women in pastoral leadership. She is originally from Nicaragua, and has lived in the United States for over 20 years. She has been married to her husband Rob for 17 years. She is a soccer mom to their son, Nash. And she loves telling stories. So I just want you guys to welcome Inés to the Be the Bridge community. And we’re gonna get started here. We have so much to talk about, especially as it relates to multi-ethnic church. And hopefully you can glean from just her expertise in this area. Tell us a little bit about your journey from Arkansas to California and planting this church. And what brought about this passion and desire to play in a multi-ethnic church?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 3:24
Thank you, Tasha. First and foremost, thank you for having me here. It is a joy to be here and an honor. And I love conversing about this. I am passionate about this. And I think this is why we connected so well because we’re kindred spirits.
Latasha Morrison 3:39
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 3:39
So yes, my name is Inés. And even before Arkansas, I want to honor my ancestors by saying that I am constantly nourished by the work of justice and the work of the faith of my people and the faith of my ancestors in Nicaragua. I grew up in Nicaragua up until high school. When I graduated high school, this is when I moved to the US to go to college. And my grandfather was a pastor. My father is a pastor, an immigrant pastor in Arkansas. And I’m third generation pastor, but the first female. So all of that, to me is legacy that comes behind me, even as I’m preaching and I’m standing and I’m leading and I’m pastoring and I’m church planting now, for such a time as this. All the strength of my ancestors, all the wisdom, all the struggles that they faced, are with me at all times. And I speak from that place, from that Nicaraguan soil. And I say that because the immigrant church in the U.S. is a gift. Is a gift to the U.S. church. We are a gift to the U.S. church. The Brown church is a gift to the U.S. church. We are a means of God’s grace. And so I never just stand alone. I bring my people with me. And just like you bring your people with you. And together, we are causing a disruption of reconciliation, pointing towards reconciliation. So I moved to Arkansas in 2001, 20 years ago, believe it or not. Time flies so fast. And I helped church plant, Mosaic Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. So this is my second time church planting. It is not my first time. And so in 2001, I will say that I was baptized in the racism of the South. That’s where I had to excavate the history of the land, I had to excavate the history of Arkansas. We were planting Mosaic Church in Little Rock in the highest crime rate area of the city, just a few blocks down from Central High School, which is a National Historic Site. So you had to excavate that land. Right?
Latasha Morrison 4:47
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 4:47
You had to excavate that this is a lynching state. You had to excavate that Silas Hunt was a first African American that was accepted and took classes at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I had to learn that history in order to understand the work that we were doing in 2001. Silas Hunt was the first African American to to be accepted at the U. of A. And his first classes took place in the boiler room, downstairs in the boiler room, because he was not allowed to take classes in the classroom with other students. And so you have to understand that history, that systemic history, to be able to understand how to plant a multi-ethnic church in Arkansas. I had to understand the Black white binary as well. Because as a Latina, and as an immigrant who didn’t grow up here, I had to be grafted into the history of the U.S., and then also grafted into the history of the Hispanic narrative. So not growing up here and being first gen, I had to understand the struggles of my Hispanic family here in the U.S. And I had to understand this hyphenated identity of not being American enough, not being Latina enough, of the second gen children. Which now my child is a second gen child. So I say all that because it’s important to know in the work of reconciliation, what land are we standing on? What are the history of the peoples? What are the history of the struggles? Who was excluded? Who was left out? And so I was able to understand the Latino immigration wave that was happening in Arkansas back then. And we were building a multi-ethnic church that had Black and white in the international community, because we were close to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock and in the Latino community as well. And I was baptized into that fire, I would say. You know, it was foreign to me to be told that I couldn’t drive through some towns in Arkansas, because it would be dangerous to me. I just couldn’t fathom it. I said, “Listen, that’s for the movies. That was 50 years ago. What do you mean I can’t go through, drive thru Harrison, Arkansas?” You can just Google Harrison, Arkansas. It was in the news last year. And so all of that baptized me and tested my theological convictions about what does the gospel say about reconciliation? And then what kind of reconciliation? Because quickly I found out, and I lived in Arkansas for 15 years, seven and a half of those years on staff at a multi-ethnic church and then seven and a half ish of those years on staff at a predominantly white church that wanted to become multi-ethnic. Often I found out that people wanted proximity to people of color in the pew, but they did not want proximity to the pain of people of color outside of the pew. So what kind of reconciliation. Right?
Latasha Morrison 9:05
You’re hitting it!
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 9:05
What kind of reconciliation are we talking about? And that was the growing pains. That was the testing of my faith. You know, reconciliation to me during those years became central to the gospel of Jesus. As I look at the Gospels, as I look at the life of Jesus, and the ethics of Jesus, because Jesus has an ethnic to his love and Jesus has a justice to his love, as I looked at that more and more reconciliation no longer was a side effect of the Gospel for me or like a sidekick. It needed to be central. It needed to be critical and not a sidekick. And so, we did that work. And I did that work. Met my husband there at the first church plant, got married in 2004. And then in 2016, God called us to come here to California for me to attend seminary. I had always gone to seminary. I had been doing the work of multi-ethnic church. And I thought my ship had sailed. And that dream was not going to come true. But I had an opportunity, my friend, Bobby Harrison, who I’m co-pastoring, with right now, he and his wife and children, they moved here to California to attend Fuller. And as soon as he came here, he said, “You know what? Arkansas is holding you back. And this church (our previous church) is holding you back. And it has a ceiling capped on you. And your voice is bigger than that. And you should see all the women and the women of color that I’m sitting under, that I’m learning under.” And so long story short, I came to visit the campus and in 2016, we moved here for me to get my M.Div. And during that time, you know, 2016 happened, the election happened. And then you know, a couple years ago, the pandemic happened. So the last six years that we’ve been here in California have been really hard. I’ve been pursuing my theological studies, graduated, was a chaplain at Fuller for a couple of years. But during that time, we were discerning God, are you going to call us again to plant a church, and if so where? Arkansas was not welcoming me back. You know, my previous church, after the 2016, election changed – changed towards me, change towards who I was, or really just became exposed to what they really thought about me. The more I spoke about reconciliation, a robust reconciliation, the more I spoke about justice, the more I spoke about immigration reform and compassion towards the disgraceful treatment of Brown people at the border. The more I did that, the more upset they became and so eventually I was disinherited from that church, and pretty much kicked out of that church.
Latasha Morrison 12:09
Why do you think? You know, because this is the story of so many Brown people right now, where they’ve been faithful serving, living in community, in small groups, in churches, and 2016 was a turning point…
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 12:28
Latasha Morrison 12:29
…and for even so many of my friends who were in predominantly white churches at that time, or either assimilated multi-ethnic churches, and that was where they felt unwelcome when they were speaking the truth in how we should be looking at those that are considered the least of these or those that are our neighbors. And I think I just want to go back. And I want you to answer that. You know, what has happened? But I wanted, there was something you said that was really poignant at the beginning of our conversation, when you were talking about, I wish I could say Nicaragua like you say it.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 13:13
You said it.
Latasha Morrison 13:23
No, I wanted to say it, your r’s roll. (laughter)
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 13:28
I had a little bit of practice when I was a child. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 13:32
But I wish I could say it like that. But when you were talking about how your ancestors are with you and you stand in their presence and their strength, and how the Brown Church, the immigrant church is a gift to America. That right there. Like, there’s so much in that statement.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 13:55
Thank you. Yes.
Latasha Morrison 13:48
And I wanted us to just revisit that, because I don’t, we don’t see that. And the multi-cultural, cross-cultural expression of God within the church is a gift to be received, not something to be rejected. And it’s being rejected. And that’s just a part of superiority, supremacy, that we see how it plays out. But just, can you speak to that and also to the 2016 election and the shift that has happened.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 14:38
Well, and it’s connected. But thank you for your kindness, Tasha, to say pause. And let’s revisit that. It just shows your heart. The heart of God is in you in wanting to pause and say, “What do you mean when you say that?” You know, when I say that my ancestors are with me, my Nicaraguan ancestors, I think about the whole land of the Americas that was colonized, you know, by Spaniards, and received such mistreatment. You know, and see what whiteness does, whiteness as a system, whether it’s Spain or white America, what it does is it deforms who we are as people of color. And so when colonizers and Spaniards came and colonized the Americas, it deformed who we were as a people. It deforms our identity, deformed our bodies, stripped us of resources, natural resources that God had given us. Land was taken, people were taken, languages were taken. And so when I think of Nicaragua, I think of a people that have had to fight to keep their identity. And, but now we’re very…I always say I have colonizer blood and colonized blood in me. We have that mixed identity. And so my ancestors who had to fight to remain in the land, to keep our traditions, to fight for independence, you know, in 1821, all of that struggle, I think, I find is in me. And so all that struggle, I sense that my abuelita, my grandmother, they speak to me. Because when I hear the rhyme of that oppression repeated throughout history, I recognize it, my body recognizes it. So the fight against being assimilated or against being taken and my language taken. I remember going to detention because I was speaking Spanish in class and not English, because I was going to a bilingual school. And so, I was taken to the detention, I had to stay afterwards because I was punished for speaking my own language. Well, what does that sound like, Tasha? What does that sound like to you? The more we excavate our Native American siblings, and how they were castigated and punished for speaking Spanish, but excuse me, for speaking their native languages, and their hair cut, and their clothes change. And so what I see is in my historical past, I see an oppression and there’s a rhyme to it, it has a certain beat, a certain tone to it. And that oppression, changes over time, changes in shape. Racism shape shifts throughout, throughout. And so when I think about, also U.S. Americans coming to Nicaragua. My father did a lot of work in community development. My father and my mother did a lot of work. They had an NGO in Nicaragua that brought a lot of medical and dental help to Nicaragua, during the 80s and 90s. Because there was a U.S. embargo in Nicaragua, and that’s where I was discipled into justice, just jumping in, in my dad’s Toyota Landcruiser four wheel drive going into the mountains, I spoke a little bit of English, he spoke a little bit English, and I was translating for a lot of missionaries. What I saw was also how American missionaries sometimes mistreated my father, and came to Nicaragua as if, “I’m coming to save you. And I’m coming with a vision of what God has given us for the Nicaraguan church.” Without ever asking, what vision had God given the Nicaraguan leaders. You know, this condescension and treating us as if we were less than. Often, often, and even in my eagerness, working in some medical teams, things were said to me that were, you know, inappropriate. And I could see what it was, there was a hierarchy of supremacy, right, in looking down at us. And so you see how missionary activity in other countries also has been colonized, where you go to tell people what to do, and you come with a white savior complex. Now, people of color, we can do that as well.
Latasha Morrison 18:58
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 18:58
But it’s an inherited idea that others need our help, and we help in ways that hurt. We help instead of giving people agency and amplifying the voices. I remember my father telling me a story. So my father was a pastor, but he did a lot of community development work. And this American missionary came to Nicaragua, and my father wanted to build a clinic connected to our church. And he was working really hard because we needed medical help. And this missionary came with a check with 1000s of dollars and said, “I’m going to give you this amount of dollars to help you build this clinic, but we would like for you to change the name of the church to our, like, the U.S. church, the English name.” And my dad said that he slid back the check over the across the table and said, “No, thank you.” And the American missionary was like, “What do you mean? You’re not even going, like this is a lot of money. Like we’re giving you 1000s of dollars to build to build this clinic. You’re not even going to pray about it?” And my dad said, “I already did. Because what you’re coming here, you know that we have a need, you’re coming to give me this, and then you’re going to tell me what to do. You’re going to change the name of our Nicaraguan Spanish name, to the American name to lay claim on this work. Lay claim on the name of the church. So how is that going to shift the identity of our people?” That small moment there, I think, instilled in me the strength of our ancestors to say, “Hell no.”
Latasha Morrison 20:48
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 20:49
Excuse my French, Tasha.
Latasha Morrison 20:51
It’s good. (laughter)
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 20:52
Hell no, you’re not going to come here and lay claim on my body, on the building, on this land. Do you see the rhyme of the oppression that just happens? It shapeshifts.
Latasha Morrison 21:02
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 21:03
You don’t have to come and Spanish boats from Europe anymore. You can arrive with that kind of supremacist mentality. And so my father’s strength, just watching him. Just watching him how he dealt and negotiated and navigated a missionary movement that often often saw us as less than. I had to remember that our people are good. My people are good and we are smart and we have our own dreams and visions for our people. But whiteness has distorted us at times. And we have to re lay claim to our bodies. How does that connect to the Brown church being a means of grace? If you want to see people, if you want to see God on the move, look at the people that are moving and migrating. That’s what I mean by the Brown church as a means of God’s grace. We are in a season in history where this is the largest movement of refugees across globally. Right? I’m sure Jenny Yang, our friend Jenny, could give us more statistics on that. But if we want to see God on the move, look at the people that are migrating. Look at our biblical ancestors. Abram was an Aramain wanderer. From the get go, God said, “Go and leave. Leave and go to a land that I will show you.” And so we want to see God in our churches, in our buildings, but maybe we need to look outside. Maybe God is in the bodies, not in the buildings. Maybe God is in the bodies that are moving. Our Haitians siblings who are at the border, as well as Central Americans who are at the border. There is the Brown Jesus, desperate, hungry. We all have to give an account, Tasha. You and I.
Latasha Morrison 22:58
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 22:58
For what Matthew 25 says, “Lord, when did we see you in a cage at the border? Lord, when did we see you crossing the river because you were escaping violence?” I experienced a lot of violence in Nicaragua. I can only imaginem I don’t have to imagine why Central American migrants would be crossing a border that is dangerous if it isn’t that it’s not safer at home. And so we don’t see God in the bodies of migrants. So that too connects to your other question, why? Why did my church in Arkansas change how they saw me after the 2016 election? Because I think the North American church, but even the global church, depending on what ideologies you come from, we put so much importance on the soul and lesser importance on the bodies connected to those souls. But Jesus came as a Brown Palestinian man born to a woman that was not yet married, to sweat like us, to grieve like us, to be hungry like us, to be thirsty like us. That’s why he says, “When did we see you? You’re gonna see me hungry, you’re gonna see me thirsty.” What is he saying? Jesus is saying is that he doesn’t only care that our souls go to heaven. He cares about how we treat each other’s bodies. And so a Christianity that doesn’t care about the body will be a Christianity that oppresses bodies, that dehumanizes bodies, even more that desecrates bodies. And all we have to look at is the history of colonization in the Americas. Our women were raped, our land were taken, our children you know also their hair were cut off to get the indigenous, to get the Indian out of them. That too happened in the Americas. And so, a Christianity that doesn’t care about the body is one that will desecrate and dehumanize. And so, after the 2016 election, we were crying out for Black bodies. We were crying out for Native American bodies. We were crying out during the pandemic for Asian American bodies that were being assaulted and insulted and desecrated in the anti Asian hate. We were crying out for Brown bodies at the border. And the more I spoke up about that, after the 2016 election, my church said, “We want you to talk about Jesus, but we don’t want you to talk about justice.” And you and I know that we can’t have Jesus without justice. So I think that that become exposed. It was always there.
Latasha Morrison 25:54
Yeah, it’s the essence. This is the part where, the separation this…I think it comes just from individualistic cultures, and even how we read the Bible in Western culture. Where we are a collective, we are a whole. I mean, Jesus cares about the whole. And we see this time and time throughout Scripture.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 26:15
Latasha Morrison 26:17
But it’s like we should believe what we see. But we see what we believe. And that culture has really deformed our lens. It’s deformed our thinking when we can try to separate Jesus from justice. It’s like, it’s the essence of who Jesus is. We are only adopted into the family of God because of justice.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 26:50
Yes, right. Oh, I love that.
Latasha Morrison 26:51
You know? And it’s like, I don’t know, it’s just one of those things. And just, you know, it’s just so many…I don’t think the church will understand. I think maybe 30 years, 20 years from now, there will be studies on this time period by future generations to really, to the break. Because something broke during that time, you know, trust. You know, where it’s like, “Okay, I believe that we’re brothers and sisters, and I’m willing to step into your environment and lock arms with you. So that we can, on Earth as it is in heaven. I’m willing to kind of give up my style of worship, my worship language, and understand and walk in this space so that there can be unity, solidarity, a deeper understanding, a proximity.” And realizing that wasn’t reciprocated in a lot of places. And in some places it was. You know, where people are listening, and I had that experience in my last church. But for so many, it was this rejection of people. There have been so many people that, you know, Brown people that have fled predominately white churches over the last four years. And the pandemic…I interviewed probably about seven friends. And most of them that didn’t leave before the pandemic, used the pandemic as a way of escape.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 26:59
Just an exodus out.
Latasha Morrison 27:41
And there has been a mass exodus and most have left silently. Most have left silently. But anyway, that’s just something. And I’m telling you, those of you who are listening, if you have ears to hear, please hear. And, you know, if you have courage, some of you who are my white brothers and sisters and you haven’t seen some of your Brown brothers and sisters in your church. Reach out and tell them they’re missed. Or like, reach out and find out why without trying to explain it away.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 29:20
Right, just to listen.
Latasha Morrison 29:23
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 29:24
Leadership begins with listening.
Latasha Morrison 29:26
Yes, yes. So you go ahead. I mean, but that’s so important in The Church We Hope For. But I think all of that what you said, just really painting that picture is so important to this conversation. So thank you for sharing that.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 29:45
Yeah. And in the multi-ethnic church movement, when I think about the Brown church, the gifts of the Brown church bringing. If we are allowed to lead it in our voices and our values, to be implanted into the heartbeat of a multi-ethnic church. We can only be better together. Because going back to what you said about different worldviews – we bring in principles of familia, how we see the church is how we see familia; we bring in resilience; we bring in the hard work of our ancestors; we bring a strong faith that also had to be strong in the face of chaos, in the face of war, in the face of struggle in the face of famine; we bring a grit to our grace that would be a gift to the North American church, that is a gift to the North American church. And that often, it has been rejected. It was a shock for me to move to the U.S. and to see that it was easier for North American missionaries to cross the border south to go to Nicaragua. But they wanted nothing to do with my pain when I crossed the border north into the U.S. And it didn’t make sense, my years of missionary activity and helping didn’t make sense. But here we are as The Church We Hope For, being that I’m the co-lead pastor, a lot of this Brown church theology and Brown church love from the get go has been implanted in the womb of our church. And it gives me great joy…
Latasha Morrison 30:06
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 30:20
…to start something that I’ve never seen before. So I don’t know if that’s where you were headed, Tasha.
Latasha Morrison 31:05
No, this is great.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 31:07
But you mentioned The Church We Hope For as a multi-ethnic church. It’s a culmination of all my life of what I’ve learned from my my Nicaraguan faith and the strength of the Nicaraguan church, the strength of abuelitas who prayed, prophesied, taught, fed people in the midst of wars and famines. And it’s also the culmination of 15 years of planting multi-ethnic church in the South. So understanding U.S. systemic racism. And I’m doing now what I said I would never do again. “I’m never planting a multi-ethnic church again. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” But Jesus.
Latasha Morrison 32:13
(laughter) It is, it is. It’s difficult.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 32:16
But Jesus. The vision of our church is that were are a beloved community moved by the Spirit to follow the life, love, and justice of Jesus. That’s our vision statement. And that didn’t come from from heaven in stone tablets. We met for months before that vision statement was created. And it was community informed. We got together to see what is God doing here?
Latasha Morrison 32:37
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 32:38
What is Jesus doing here? And those were the words that rose up. Oh, we are a beloved community. That’s a nod to Dr. King actually, the beloved community. And then moved by the Spirit, the next section in our in our vision statement, because we want to be like the church in Acts. The early church in Acts to me is an immigrant church. It’s a migrant church, because the work of the Spirit in the book of Acts, it’s a border crossing work. It’s a boundary breaking God. And so moved by the Spirit is not just oh, a cute Holy Spirit. It is a border crossing Spirit. And it’s a boundary breaking God. It is the same Spirit that moved Jesus to go through Samaria because he had to talk to that woman, that Samaritan woman, and he is crossing borders when he asks, “Can I get a drink? And I have no water jar.” But she notes, “You don’t have a water jug? You mean you’re gonna put your lips on my water jar?” And like, don’t you know, that in 1956 there was different water fountains. Right? In high schools in Arkansas. It’s still there, the National Historic Site, you can see it’s painted over, but you can see “white” and “colored” on those water fountains. So what is Jesus saying? What is Jesus saying through his actions? We don’t need to only pay attention to the words of Jesus, we need to pay it pay attention to the verbs of Jesus, to the verbs of Jesus. His actions have an ethic to them. He is breaking boundaries by asking to drink from the same water jar. Just like there was a fight for integration of water fountains and diners and schools in the South. So we see the rhyme of the oppression. Who’s disrupting that the Spirit of the Living God? So beloved community moved by the Spirit to follow the life, love, and justice of Jesus. We want to put Jesus at the center of our church. At the center of our church. 100.9% of our church members have been hurt by the church, including both of us pastors. You know, we’ve been hurt by the church because the church has not lived up to the liberating power of Jesus. The church has not been a credible witness of the reconciling power on the cross. And so a lot of a community, it is multi-ethnic – it’s Asian American, it is African American, it’s Latinx, it’s white allies, our white family, it’s mixed families as well. And everyone has been hurt by the church. And justice moves at the speed of repair, and it must start with repair. So we are repairing our racially traumatized bodies in this church, racially traumatized by a church, meaning by a Christianity that has not cared for our bodies. So the first step that our, the first newcomers when they come to our church is they’re needing to be healed from a lot of church trauma and a lot of racial trauma. But we put Jesus at the center, because I say that Jesus is an equal opportunity offender. You know, he will offend, his ethics and his love they will, he will offend anybody if we’re not living up to the love of Jesus, if we’re not living up to the life of Jesus, and if we’re not living up to the justice of Jesus. And so, our church has that as a heartbeat, the life, love, and justice of Jesus. And we desire to be building something that we haven’t experienced before together with all the voices in equity together to be a credible witness of that reconciliation that we think should happen with us and God and then with us and each other.
[Latasha Morrison sharing about becoming a recurring partner of Be the Bridge and shopping the online store.] If you’ve been enjoying and learning from the Be the Bridge podcast, we invite you to join us in this work. You can support and sustain our mission as a recurring partner at BeTheBridge.com/Give. You can also help spread this word of bridge building by supporting and really sporting our apparel. So if you haven’t gotten your Be the Bridge hat, sweatshirt, all of the things, let’s take the message to the street. Visit our online store at Shop.BeTheBridge.com and make sure we’re spreading the word about all the work that Be the Bridge is doing and will do. At Be the Bridge, we’re doing the work to empower people and culture toward racial healing, racial equity, and racial reconciliation. And this work is only possible because of the generosity of bridge builders like you. So thank you so much, for those of you who are listening and sharing our podcast, sharing our posts, those of you who are giving to this work that’s helping us create resources and material that will transform hearts. So join us at BeTheBridge.com/Give. And let’s continue to build bridges together. Thank you so much.
Latasha Morrison 37:53
That’s so beautiful. And I think churches like yours are needed. And I hear just from so many people, you know, from our white brothers and sisters, our Latinx community, Asian community where everybody’s seeking that. Because I think one of the things is there’s still, you should…I mean, if you’re in a homogenous church, there should still be a longing, because not one culture represents the vastness of who God is.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 38:27
Latasha Morrison 38:27
It takes, you know, every nation and tribe for us to understand. Like our culture, our language is created by God. And when we don’t realize that and when we don’t see that we’re missing so much when expressions of our faith have been isolated and rejected. And so many of the prominent, what you would say expansions of the faith, you know, when we talk about some of the just things that, the movements of the church, there’s voices that have been left out.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 39:10
Latasha Morrison 39:11
When you think about reformation and just different, and there’s something missing.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 39:16
Latasha Morrison 39:16
And so my prayer is that God would give people eyes to see what is missing. Like one of the thing I feel like that the Brown church brings also into our faith and to our worship experience that of lament.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 39:31
Latasha Morrison 39:31
You know? When you think about it, and you know, we talk about this a lot at Be the Bridge, there’s so much power and restoration and life in lament. And when we look at half the Psalms are about lament.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 39:47
That’s right, that’s right.
Latasha Morrison 39:48
There’s a book in the Bible. And so we see the importance. And a lot of the western theology is not there. Right? And I think that’s something that is brought when we talk about liberation, you mentioned that. Understanding, you know, the liberating faith of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. You know, when we look at the slave Bible, you see so many books of the Bible that were left out. And all the ones that had this liberating theme. Exodus, the entire Book of Exodus is left out.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 40:31
Latasha Morrison 40:32
And so we see the power of it.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 40:34
Latasha Morrison 40:35
And that’s why it was left out.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 40:37
It was left out.
Latasha Morrison 40:38
For people not to hone the agency of liberation. But God has a way. You know?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 40:47
Latasha Morrison 40:48
Because I look at, you know, Harriet Tubman who was taught from that Bible, but still God moved and spoke and led. And she is not a fairy tale person. She was a real living human being.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 41:05
Latasha Morrison 41:07
Yes, that was led by the Spirit of God.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 41:09
Latasha Morrison 41:10
That freed hundreds of people. Returning to the South several times.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 41:17
Over and over.
Latasha Morrison 41:18
Over again. Basically, a general in the army during the Civil War. Like, you know, all of these things and then dieing in poverty. You know? There is a a reckoning. You know? And I feel like there was an opportunity, there’s an opportunity that the church is being presented. The church is…there is an opportunity for the church to see itself. And I feel like some of the things that has happened over the last few years have been a gift of God for us to wake up and see.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 41:57
Latasha Morrison 41:58
And then there’s been a doubling down.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 42:00
Yes, there’s been a doubling down. That’s been the hard part. Reckoning has to begin with repentance. And if there’s no lamentation, there cannot be liberation.
Latasha Morrison 42:14
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 42:14
That’s one of the gifts as well that the Brown church can bring.
Latasha Morrison 42:16
Woo! Say it agian. Because you just said, it was just so beautiful the way you said. (laughter)
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 42:21
If there is no lamentation, there cannot be liberation.
Latasha Morrison 42:25
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 42:26
If we do not begin with lamenting the sins of ancestors, the systemic grief of whole entire peoples excluded and bodies desecrated, no matter what people group. If we don’t have lamentation, there cannot be liberation. And so that’s the critique that we have of the North American church, that the North American church has been complicit in protecting and perpetuating systemic racism. And so until we repent, we cannot repair; until we lament, we cannot be liberated together.
Latasha Morrison 42:26
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 43:06
If I have hurt you, or you have hurt me and we’ve hurt each other, and we don’t come and repent, we can’t just throw things under the rug and keep moving forward, because that’s going to come eat us up later on. And so the reckoning since 2016, and the pandemic, that has exposed, if we see this as an opportunity and a divine opportunity to repent, then there’s hope for reconciliation. If we see that it’s an opportunity to lament – and our church often has been lamenting, we lament really well at our church – if there’s lamentation, there can be a liberation. If we are familia, and we are…
Latasha Morrison 43:48
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 43:49
…and we’re at the table, where we’re supposed to be feasting at the table of God, but I see that someone else is not feasting, and they’re crying, and they’re weeping. If we are from the familia of God, and we are, I should not be well, if somebody else in the familia of God is not well. And we have forgotten that we are familia.
Latasha Morrison 44:10
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 44:11
If we’re familia and one person hurts, we ought to and find out why. But our bodies have not been welcomed in these spaces, or have not even been welcomed to the table. But we can make new tables. We can make new tables.
Latasha Morrison 44:25
And we can’t just cover up and you know, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. I think, you know, there’s this perfect example. I was listening to this documentary. And they were talking about, they were just tracing enslavement, especially in the countries of the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, and Brazil. And so they talked about this mass grave site being found in Portugal of my ancestors, of Black bodies from the slave trade that was found. Up to 1000s of bodies that’s found. And instead of excavating those bodies, maybe sending them back to Africa for a burial or creating a memorial site…
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 45:30
Latasha Morrison 45:31
…yeah, honoring their lives. Instead of honoring, we would rather cover up. And instead of excavating those bodies, they built a mini golf in Portugal, a mini golf center over those bodies. And now here we are in, we are so disconnected from the pain of Black and Brown people. And it’s like so disconnected. That’s like stabbing someone in the heart again. These were living human beings. And I was watching this, and it’s just such a disconnect, because I couldn’t imagine Germany finding something like this.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 45:31
Latasha Morrison 45:55
And not creating a memorial or honoring the Holocaust. But the difference how we treat these, you know, seems like from the 1800s, 1700s to now we would have learned something. You know?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 46:38
Latasha Morrison 46:39
But we keep trying to erase that history and that pain like it’s gonna go away. And you know, and one of the things that…I want to, those of you who are listening, and if you’re a part of a multi-ethnic church, there’s one thing that really sticks out, like, even in how your leadership is structured in your church. Like you as a co-pastor, I don’t know what area in California you are. But I’ve seen multi-ethnic church, multi-ethnic churches that are not multi-cultural, or predominately white churches that are in predominantly African American spaces, areas, neighborhoods, but do not represent that community at all in worship or body. How is your church doing that?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 47:35
Yes. Thank you for asking that question, Tasha. So our church, I want to say something to what you just said about that burial site in Portugal, because it speaks into this as well. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra. She is the Dean of Central Latino here at Fuller Seminary, and she is the mother of the Sanctuary Movement. She’s been doing this for so long.
Latasha Morrison 47:56
I’ve heard of her. Yeah.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 47:57
Yes. And there’s one phrase, she has many phrases that are just, that just hit you. But she says that the lie that justifies every injustice is that some bodies are worth less than others. The lie that justifies any injustice, whether it’s that burial site that you were talking about in Portugal, is that some bodies are worth less than others. So they’re not worth, if they’re seen as subhuman, if they’re seen as less than they’re not worth giving a proper barrier, they’re not worth giving proper health care, they’re not worth providing asylum when they’re escaping violence. They’re not worth X, Y, and Z. Right? That line has crushed me for many years since I heard it. She was giving a lecture on immigration reform that carries over into our work of reconciliation. Whether you and I are entering into a room and we look at the bodies that are represented or not represented in that room, the bodies in multi-ethnic churches. So we have to look at what is it lie that has justified any injustice to where we’re standing. So The Church We Hope For is here in Pasadena, California. And we of course, we were online for about a year and a half. We started planting in January of 2020. And then the pandemic hit in March. So it was like a funny haha not funny God moment because there’s no handbook to how do you charge plant in the pandemic. So we were online, we created a very participatory online community for about a year and a half. And then in the fall of last year, fall 2021, we started meeting here in Pasadena, California, in a church building that we’re renting from another church. And so we have to know and we’ve lived here in Pasadena and Monrovia area for six years. We have been studying the history of this land. We’re standing on stolen land of the Tonga people’s and that’s the first thing that we did. We did a land acknowledgement the first time that we met at the church where we are meeting now. It was important for us to know that the church building that we’re meeting at right now was built in 1960. And so located in history 1960, what was happening during that time? Right? Civil rights. So that church was built out of white flight, that congregation left L.A. to the outside of L.A., which is now Pasadena at that time, out of white flight. That’s important information to know, because that is a spiritual thing, as well as a social thing. But funny haha, we’re here. We’re here. We’re in that building. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 50:48
Look at God.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 50:49
Look at God. (laughter) Repairing the work. And so in my in my work, in our work of multi-ethnic church ministry, reconciliation has been cheapened in some multi-ethnic churches. And I get to critique it, because I’ve paid the price and I pay the cost of doing that work. I have paid the bills there. And I’ve been burned. I have paid the cost of that kind of calling towards reconciliation in and through a local church. But multi-ethnic church and multi-ethnic church planting I get to critique it, because I’ve been doing this for 20 years, has often been a work of assimilation.
Latasha Morrison 51:28
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 51:28
And so in our church, we say, and I say, we say, no presence without power. No presence without power. What does that mean? Dr. Corey Edwards gave me that line at a multi-ethnic church conference many years ago, where she says, “If you have presence of people of color, but you do not give them power and authority, then that is iniquity.” Right? What I call, what I like to say is that no presence without power. Otherwise, that’s just a multi-ethnic church plantation. And it looks great on the brochure, it looks great on the website. But if you ask questions and you ask what people are paid and you ask who has power and you ask who is over budget, and you ask who gets to preach and teach, then you find out. If it just looks good on the outside, but on the inside, it has the rotten fruit of sexism and racism. So a multi-ethnic church plantation is to have presence of people, the presence of people of color with no power, especially women of color. And so I no longer.
Latasha Morrison 52:42
Whew. Say it again. Say it again for the people in the back.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 52:47
For the people in the back who want and have a desire and have good intentions to have a multi-ethnic church. But if you have presence of people of color without power, that is called a multi ethnic church plantation. Dr. Michael Emerson says that churches are 10 times more segregated than the neighborhoods that they are in. And he is actually the one that says that that would be a multi-ethnic church plantation, that there’s several things that it looks good on the outside, but on the inside whiteness is still running it. I’m gonna tell you something, Tasha. There are people of color also leading multi-ethnic churches that operate with a system of whiteness, because the hierarchy is so strong that women are not thriving, women of Color are not thriving. And so the question is, the question is, are there presence of people of color without power? And I toiled hard at the past church where I was at in Arkansas. I toiled hard. And when I realized that they wanted my presence without my voice, or they wanted me to keep quiet. “Talk about Jesus, but don’t talk about justice.” I found out that eventually, my mentor, Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil said, “Inés, how long will you be complicit in your own oppression? How long will you be complicit in your own oppression?” Because racism and sexism is self perpetuating and self correcting, and not self correcting, excuse me. And so it has to be interrupted. So we have to be the prophetic disruptors, even in multi-ethnic spaces to say, “Hold up. We are just repeating what the colonizers did. We’re doing the same thing. We’re doing the same thing. It has an appearance of multi-ethnicity, but the way things are run, the way that it’s consumeristic, the way that it’s not about discipleship of people, the way that it’s about the love of money, the way that it’s about the building of platforms and not investing in people, the way that it’s about the building of buildings and not building the body of Christ that has infected the North American church. That type of white Christianity, that cares more about buildings and building funds than about the body of Christ standing at the border. Right? And so, in multi-ethnic church, I’m very critical of it, because I have paid the price of it. And what I want is a multi-ethnic church that lives up to the liberating power of Christ, where all bodies are flourishing and thriving, especially women of color. Because all systems of oppression have been built on the backs of women, especially Black women. And so we need to repair that inequity. So I am very intentional in co-leading. I don’t have to co-lead with another male. But we’re doing this as a form of embodied reconciliation. I’m co-leading with a pastor who happens to be white, who happens to be male, who happens to be from the South. A tall, blue eyed, educated male. We’re married, but not to each other. And doing that dance of submitting to each other in respectful mutuality is an act of justice and an act of repair. In 20 years, Tasha, in 20 years of ministry, this is the first time that I’m being paid – I’m not afraid to say this – equal as a man. Everybody likes to talk about reconciliation until you have to pay a woman what she is worth. And so in this church, in this church, if I’m not paid equally, what am I telling the women and the women of color here? Right?
Latasha Morrison 56:46
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 56:47
That would be a multi-ethnic church plantation. And that’s what I get to critique about multi-cultural, multi-ethnic spaces that you’re talking about where I have been before, where you look deep inside, you look with a microscope, and I smell whiteness here. I smell white normativity here. And the men that have been most disrespectful and most aggressive to me, actually have been men of color when it comes to church planting and church leadership. And I think it’s because our brothers have suffered for such a long time, that some of them will get a little bit of power, and with a scarcity mentality, they may feel threatened by the voice of a strong woman, like you or I. And what I want to tell my brothers is ain’t nobody trying to take nothing away from you.
Latasha Morrison 57:38
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 57:39
When we live with that scarcity mentality of competition and not collaboration that too has affected multi-ethnic church ministries.
Latasha Morrison 57:47
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 57:48
That platform driven. I believe pride comes before the platform. We ought to be, we ought to be in fear and trembling, stepping on platforms, because who we’re representing is the living God. And his living love.
Latasha Morrison 57:48
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 58:01
And it’s not about us. And so my father keeps me humble there. My father always says, “Do not fall in love with the sound of your own voice.” But that sense of competition, ot collaboration has infected the North American church.
Latasha Morrison 58:19
Yes, it has.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 58:20
And maybe we should, we should have a little bit of obscurity as leaders, as pastors. We ought to smell like sheep, we ought to be doing that work. But yeah, so I look at the multi-ethnic church and everything from how we’re leading together and body leadership, across gender, across race, in our church, the systems, how we’re building these systems. We’re not wanting to repeat the mistakes of what we have seen in previous churches. We’ll probably make mistakes. We probably already have. But The Church We Hope For is we hope to live up to the life and love and justice of Jesus in everything that we do, including how much I get paid, or how we empower other women, or how we create non hierarchical systems. I believe that all hierarchies are misogynistic in nature. And they’ve been affected by the fall in Genesis three. So we all have this temptation and tendency, it can be two women leading together, we have a temptation of one to be supreme over the other or want to dominate over the other. So we have inherited this demon of domination from Genesis three, man or woman, whether it’s two women leading together, two men, we we see this demon of wanting to dominate another because of that scarcity mentality and thinking there’s less. “There’s gonna be less for us.”
Latasha Morrison 59:48
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 59:49
When our father, when God our Father, and God our Mother too, has invited us to a feast. To a feast. And there’s no need to compete. So, yeah.
Latasha Morrison 1:00:01
So good. And I mean, you just, you hit so much of that. You know, because we are impacted. That’s why this work as a reconciler is a lifestyle and we’re always learning.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:00:14
Latasha Morrison 1:00:14
It’s not something that, “Hey, we’re just teaching to this group of people.” But this is a work for all of us to embrace and to live out. And you never arrive.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:00:26
Latasha Morrison 1:00:26
And the moment that we think we’ve arrived, is when we know that we are in sin. (laughter) You know?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:00:32
Yes, that’s right. (laughter)
Latasha Morrison 1:00:34
I’m always learning. And then this thing where, always checking yourself. Especially you talk about, you know, we need more collaboration and not as much competition. And some of these things that I see is that we have to also learn how to go to each other before the call out. You know what I’m saying?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:00:56
Latasha Morrison 1:00:56
Like, you know, I see a lot of that happening, and it breaks my heart, especially with people of color. And it’s like, “Are you going to your brother or your sister in private and saying, ‘Hey, I want to help you with this.'” And then are you, if someone is coming to you like that in humility, are you willing to listen? And I think that those are just some some key things that you hit on just in your experiences. You know, where sometimes it’s, you know, your own kinfolk.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:01:31
Latasha Morrison 1:01:32
You know, and we have to learn to work in solidarity. And it’s just really, the enemy that sometimes like kind of tears us apart. Because I know for me, when there is conflict with other Brown people that hits me hard. Because you expect it sometimes from your white brothers and sisters, because you know the history and all those things. But when it happens with your own people, it like it crushes, it crushes me. It cuts deep. And I know there’s a lot of people that’s even speaking to that. And then that’s why sometimes other voices are used even in the system, other Brown voices are used in the system of white supremacy, to pit us against one another.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:02:22
Latasha Morrison 1:02:22
That’s also a trick you see it all the time. You know, politics, within the church, like all these things to kind of contradict. But one of the things you were describing, I just kept thinking about Acts six, and just just the feeding of the widows. And if you look at that, you know, it wasn’t just…I think it’s like, the Bible shows us the way. You know? You see this conflict of food, and it wasn’t just about food, it was also ethnic hostility.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:03:02
Latasha Morrison 1:03:02
And it’s like, but and look at the way it was resolved in the planting of the leaders over the food. So there was a switch of power. You know? Because they knew and understood that, “Hey, our eyes may be prejudiced here. We’re only going to see things one way. We’re not seeing things like the marginalized group. So we need to shift our power and put the marginalized group over that, because if we don’t, it could really hinder the movement of the early church.”
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:03:39
Latasha Morrison 1:03:40
That could have been it. Right then and there.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:03:41
That could have been it.
Latasha Morrison 1:03:42
That could have been it.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:03:43
If Peter had not confessed his prejudice, that could have been it. He would not have been the rock of the church.
Latasha Morrison 1:03:50
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:03:51
If Peter had not been called by the Holy Spirit and move towards Cornelius’s house. And the first thing he says is the weirdest thing anyone would say if you go into somebody else’s home. “Now, you know I’m not supposed to be here.”
Latasha Morrison 1:04:04
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:04:04
“You and I are not supposed to be eating together, hanging out together, sharing utensils.” So Peter is having a social transformation, that his faith was affecting who he feasted with and how. And Cornelius is like, waiting for the Word of God. But Peter in his prejudice is like going, “I don’t know how to act. I don’t know. I’ve never been in a Gentiles home.” You know, it changed that wording. It may sound weird to modern ears, right? And so yeah, Peter, who had been with our Jesus who has seen the verbs of Jesus and how Jesus acted and always included never excluded, always restored people when he healed them into the community that had rejected and marginalized them and ostracized them. And so, so it must be with us. If Peter can’t take a pass at reconciliation, then we can’t take a pass at reconciliation. And often, and same with Paul. There were so many conflicts there between them.
Latasha Morrison 1:05:07
That’s what I was going to say. Imagine that enemy that just killed Stephen. And they come into your house?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:05:13
That’s right. “Like what are you doing here? Who did you bring? Who did you bring?” And Paul often gets beat up, not because he’s preaching Jesus. But in the book of Acts, he’s getting beat up because he brought Gentiles into the church.
Latasha Morrison 1:05:27
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:05:27
“Why would you bring those people?” There’s a we and they narrative that it was paying close attention Acts six, which bodies are being fed and who is not being fed. That’s power dynamics. And then further on with Peter, you know, the circumcised believers. Which there’s only one kind of circumcision. Right? So, men, so the circumcised believers are like, “Peter, you went and had pork tacos with those people? Like you still smell like pork. Now you know that they’re not part of our story. They’re not part of our people.” Dynamics.
Latasha Morrison 1:06:03
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:06:03
Power dynamics. And what does Peter say? Peter’s like, “Hey, man, like, yo, the Spirit fell on them the same way that the Spirit fell on us. Who am I then to stand in the way of their baptism?” And so the early church is struggling and wrestling with a case study of desegregation and integration, they don’t know how to be together. They don’t know how to be with together. So that prejudice that has affected relational dynamics in the early church is still with us today. So if they can’t take a pass at it, if they can’t be a little bit awkward with it, then we’ll have to be…you said earlier, I love what you said, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. And we have to be willing to sound a little bit foolish like Peter at times and say, “Yeah, now I’m not supposed to be here. Or I’m not supposed to eat with you. But Jesus.”
Latasha Morrison 1:07:00
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:07:00
But Jesus. And we see that awkwardness of their relational dynamics all throughout the book of Acts, and the Spirit doing something new. The Spirit is the heartbeat of heaven. And it is the Spirit that built the church, not the apostles.
Latasha Morrison 1:07:16
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:07:17
The Spirit was moving bodies, the body of Peter, and the body of Cornelius towards each other. If we’re paying attention today, the Spirit is still doing his or her work of moving us towards each other, repenting of the baggage that we bring into our faith and saying, “No more. Not anymore. You’ve heard it said, that we used to not share the same diner. You’ve heard it said, that we used to drink out as separate water fountains. You’ve heard it said…” You know, Jesus is just reminding us of the ethics of Yahweh in the Old Testament. The ethics of Yahweh were to take care of the widow, the orphan, the foreigner, the sick, and the poor. Jesus is the embodiment of God the Father’s love for the immigrant, the orphan, the sick, the poor, and the foreigner. And so, so it is with us. So it is with us. That’s justice in the Old Testament. And there’s more verses about justice, then there is about sex.
Latasha Morrison 1:08:26
Exactly. Than anything else.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:08:27
Than anything else, than anything else. And so that’s the invitation. That’s the disruption. That’s, yeah, it is an invitation. And it is a disruption to reimagine. What do we do now? Do we like who we have become as a North American church? Do we like who you and I have become? Do we still have more to go? I love that the name of our church is The Church We Hope For because I hope that we never arrive. I hope that we’re constantly saying, “Oh, look at this. I have something new to learn.” I hope we are lifelong learners and that 20 years from now, our children will say, “Well, y’all missed the boat on this one. And here’s another opportunity to keep growing at reconciliation, and justice. Who else has been excluded that we haven’t welcomed into the conversation?” But we are hoping to create a safe space where all lives are flourishing and we’re attentive to the bodies connected to those souls in this church. And we’re hoping to lead in a church that will be different, that will be creating a different habitat and a different ecosystem because it’s led by a woman of color as well. We’re hoping that that will have an impact. Because less than 14% of women, of churches in the U.S. are led by women. Then we’re also hoping to create a disruptive imagination to lead alongside a white male. What does it look like for a white male to in mutuality submit to a woman at times and vice versa. And to do so without killing each other. Right? What does it look like to have respectful mutuality, so that there will be flourishing? What does it look like to have a church where we’re healing from racial trauma and sexual trauma and gender trauma and micro aggressions and microgrant. What does it look like? We don’t even know yet. Because we don’t even know what’s normal. We’ve only seen what’s abnormal. So the first thing that we’re doing is justice begins with repair, and then begins with our bodies slowly, before we like from run to do great and mighty things.
Latasha Morrison 1:08:29
Yeah. So good, so good. And I tell you, you hit…I was gonna say, you know, one of the questions I typically ask our guests, what are some of the things you’re lamenting? And we kind of talked about that stuff, what are the things that you’re lamenting as it relates to the church. And normally how I close out a podcast is, you know, what are you hopeful for? Just to give people hope, and you just expressed that so beautifully about hope. Because there is hope.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:11:12
Latasha Morrison 1:11:12
Things look desolate right now. Things sometimes look so depraved, but God is always good. You know?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:11:24
Yes, that’s right.
Latasha Morrison 1:11:24
And to say that even after I tell you, let me tell you, it’s been a two years for me that have been undescribable with the loss of my dad and just everything. And I just, I go back. And it wasn’t just words that I said, but I remember at my father’s funeral, and this was so unexpected, standing on that stage, I don’t even know how I felt the strength to even speak. But I remember the first words out of my mouth was, “God is still good.”
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:11:57
Latasha Morrison 1:11:58
And for God to manifest that in my heart, where sometimes like, it doesn’t feel so good. But speaking those words helped manifest it in my heart, because we can see the goodness of God. We can see the goodness of God through what he’s creating through The Church We Hope For and, you know, the collaboration. I could see the goodness of God through what is happening in Be the Bridge and teaching this way of reconcilers so that people truly understand the true theology around that. And, and so, one of the things that, this other thing that…sometimes, because things sometimes can be so broken, we don’t understand how to reimagine a system. You know?
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:11:58
Latasha Morrison 1:11:58
And so how do we reimagine a church where we have to sometimes give people a vision to see on earth as it isn’t heaven. God has given a vision of something great and spectacular and beautiful and whole and holy. And it’s like, but if we haven’t seen it, how do you see it? And it’s like, but what, you know, how do you reimagine the church? And this is what we need to see. Because this is what is to come.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:13:26
That is what is to come. If anything, the pandemic flattened our ideas and our imaginations of what church was. And we had to learn how to be a body without a building, because we started as a house church, and then the pandemic hit. And then we created an online community, where we had to care for the body of Christ without a building. And it forced us to be creative, because necessity is the mother of all inventions. Right? And so we learned to be the body without a building. We also learned to be attentive to the bodies that were coming to our community. And we welcomed those voices. And so we have Filipino voices in our midst, African American voices in our midst, Latinx voices in our midst. People with different abilities in our midst. And so as we reimagine if we amplify those voices and give them presence and power, it is a community informed reimagination. And so we decenter the clergy. This church is not about Bobby and I. This is not the Bobby and Inés show. But if we give it to the priesthood of believers, they will inform how this becomes a safe space, a flourishing space, a thriving place. And so we also reimagined with what we call rituals and centering images. Rituals of our different ethnic spaces and our different communities. We bring them to the center. And so we say that in our church, the margins are our middle, not whiteness. The margins are our middle. So we bring in rituals, we bring in practices, we bring in images to disrupt our anemic imagination of whiteness. We don’t say, “Well, in this church, we’ve always done it this way.” We don’t say that from the beginning. In this church, we believe in kapwa. Oh, what is kapwa? I learned that in the Filipino culture kapwa is the deep interconnectedness of all things. Oh, wow. What does that mean? What does that mean for when we eat? What foods we bring? What does that mean for how we gather? What does that mean for who has the mic? What does that mean for XYZ? So we’re imagining all systems informed with the community that we are with, their eyes and their hearts are speaking into the life of this church. So this is not just the Inés and Bobby show. And we need that type of reimagination. What is the Spirit doing here? How are all these ethnic communities a gift to this church? And are their voices not just being represented, but they’re being built up, and they’re helping build up? So this church is very community informed. And is is also trauma informed. As we’re healing, we’re healing from our trauma. Imagine what it would look like for the voices to be equitable. Imagine for what it would look like for the budget to be equitable. Imagine what it would look like for the type of work that we’re doing in the community to be a representation of our heartbeat. If we’re an immigrant community, then how are we being incarnational in the immigrant community? If there’s an Asian American community, how are we standing in solidarity? There’s been times that I have, we have created safe spaces for our Asian American community to mourn and lament the anti Asian rhetoric where I did not need to be present because I, though I’m a woman of color I’m not Asian or of Asian descent and my presence would have maybe created a non safe space. I’ve had to learn that as a leader. It confounds me at times. But I’ve needed to step away from places and let our Asian sisters lead themselves, and I don’t need to be there and be okay with that. That’s a reimagination. That means that the bodies in our church, their dreams, the places where there may be fear or needing to repair, they are informing how we are becoming a community together. There’s no handbook for that, Tasha. What I do is, I listen, and I ask a lot of questions. And I say, “Can you help me understand? What do you need from me?” I’m a multi-ethnic church leader. I’m not just a Latina leader. I’m a multi-ethnic church leader. And so I need to often ask and be a student, and others be my teacher. Tthat requires humility, that requires courage. That also requires that sometimes I’ll say, “Oh, I am sorry. That was not my intent when I said this, I may have offended you. I did not mean. Can you help me understand?” Because I’m a multi-ethnic church faith leader. And so the reimagination requires that everybody in the body of Christ in a non individualistic way, but a collectivistic way, is building this church together. So that it can be safe. And it can be a place of flourishing. It can be an ecosystem where the life, love, and justice of Jesus is at the center. There’s no handbook. We’re learning as we go. Just like in the book of Acts. We’re learning as we go. And it requires to let go of power too. Let go of power.
Latasha Morrison 1:18:43
So good. We could talk forever. (laughter) We are at the time. But this has been so rich and so good. And I know that there’s going to be so much that our community is going to get from this discussion here and from this podcast. Before I just really feel led, before we close, there’s two things. One thing you mentioned, you know, growing up in a bilingual school and how you were ostracized, and you know, you got to trouble for and detention for speaking your language. And that is something my friend, Eloise, also told me that happened. And to her, you know, being born in the States, she’s a Latina woman in Texas, that same thing happened. That same rhetoric. And that’s why you know, so many people, especially in certain parts of the country, they’re Latino, but they don’t know Spanish because it was basically beaten out of their grandparents or their parents. And because of fear, they didn’t teach it to their children. But one of the things we have a group of pastors, a community of almost 2000 pastors, within Be the Bridge. Pastors that are really leaning into this conversation to learn and to grow. I would love for you to pray for them. We’ve only done prayers on the podcast a couple of times. But, you know, I know we’re over time now. But I would love for you to pray for that pastor who has a heart for multi-ethnic ministry that they are trying to reimagine on earth as it is in heaven, and to create a church in a world that incorporates the flourishing of all. So would you just pray for the pastor, some of these pastors have been let go of their churches, they’ve been ridiculed, voted out. Some of them have lost members because of their commitment to this. You know, so I would love to just lift them up in prayer and pray over them.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:21:19
Yes, I will love that. Thank, Tasha.
Latasha Morrison 1:21:23
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:21:23
God our Father and God our Mother. We praise you, because great is your name. Your name is great and greatly to be praised. And God I pray right now for your servants. God, I pray for Your servants that the Spirit of the Lord would be upon them. Because you God have anointed them to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners. I have a tickle my throat. I’m sorry.
Latasha Morrison 1:21:59
Go ahead. We can edit. Don’t worry. Yes. You good? That’s fine. Take your time.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:22:23
I think my throat just got dry.
Latasha Morrison 1:22:25
Yeah. Because we have been talking a lot. You see, I was sipping the entire time. Yeah, let me know. Yeah, that’s fine. You could just pick up we can, you can just edit. Yeah.
Inés Velásquez-McBryde 1:22:45
And God, I pray for my sisters and brothers, who you have called with the spirit of liberation, to speak and proclaim the good news to all people. I know that my sisters and brothers have paid a high cost for this calling. Because reconciliation comes at a high price and a high cost. So Jesus, I pray that you who are well acquainted with their grief, withdraw close and come near, that you would comfort them like a mother, that you would comfort them and their families, with their communities, that you will comfort them in all the places where there need your encouragement and your comfort, because they have paid a high price. God, you are the one that collects our tears. And you know, the friends that they have lost, the finances they have lost, the sleep that they have lost, maybe even the courage to speak that they have lost. And so Jesus come alongside them. Holy Spirit, wrap your arms around them, that you may encourage them. And while you encourage them, give them courage to keep going on. Give them the courage that they need, even if it comes in small increments. Wherever their courage is slow, would you comfort them and give them courage God? Jesus, you who are well acquainted with this grief, you were strengthened often by the Spirit to move and live and breathe and have your being. So I pray for these pastors, that you would give them hope for their lives, that you will give them purpose in all the places where they may be depressed or sad or discouraged. God, would you come with the strength of Jehovah? Would you come with a spirit of deliverance? Would you come with good news for them? Because they have paid the price for preaching the good news for all people. May the good news also come to them in all the places where they’re brokenhearted, where they have been oppressed, where they have been misunderstood. Jesus come close and draw near. May they find a community, a tribe, a familia where they can have collective hope and collective resilience and collective compassion and collective mercy to just take the next faithful step forward, God. Give them vision wherever their vision has dimmed, wherever their eyes have dimmed. Give them vision God, just to take the next step. God I know that you sometimes don’t give us a full vision at once. You just give us enough information to take the next faithful step. So be with my sisters and brothers, God. Be with these pastors. Pastor their souls, God. Pastor and shepherd their bodies and their souls, and provide in miraculous ways. In Jesus name.
Latasha Morrison 1:25:39
Amen. Thank you so much just for your time. And I know this is going to be great.
Tandria Potts 1:25:50
Go to the donors table if you’d like to hear the unedited version of this podcast.
Thanks for listening to the Be the Bridge podcast. To find out more about the Be the Bridge organization and or to become a bridge builder in your community. Go to BeTheBridge.com. Again, that’s BeTheBridge.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, remember to rate and review it on this platform and share it with as many people as you possibly can. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today’s show was edited, recorded, and produced by Travon Potts at Integrated Entertainment Studios in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. The host and executive producer is Latasha Morrison. Lauren C. Brown is the Senior Producer. And transcribed by Sarah Connatser. Please join us next time. This has been a Be the Bridge production.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai