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Chicago Church is 'Fasting From Whiteness' For Lent

The church 'will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people' in it's promotion of the spiritual holiday

A Chicago church has announced it will be “fasting from whiteness” during Lent by abstaining from any hymns composed or written by White musicians. 

“In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people,” the First United Church of Oak Park in Oak Park, Illinois, said on its website. “Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more.”

“For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins,” the statement continued.

The church placed an outdoor banner to announce its intention for the 40-day religious observance. 

The church’s decision was made even though the church’s senior pastor, Rev. John Edgerton, is himself white. 

Under Edgerton’s leadership, the church claims it is “valuing people of all races, ethnicities, cultural identities, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities in every aspect of our congregational life.”

In a March 29 newsletter, the church stated they would “honor our fast from whiteness this Lent by prioritizing the voice of Bruce Reyes-Chow by sharing a chapter of his book, In Defense of Kindness.”

Reyes-Chow is a Presbyterian elder from California known for his work and opinions surrounding activism, including Black Lives Matter. 

In the newsletter, they included an excerpt from Reyes-Chow, which reads:

“While I understand the desire to be more compassionate and to have more thoughtful engagement around disagreements, we must be careful that such a desire does not turn into a modern-day manifestation of ‘civilizing’ those who do not fit into our understanding of normative behavior. Sometimes our norms oppress and marginalize others.”

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