Exploring the Advancement of Racial Justice as a Strategy for Racial Reconciliation in the United States Protestant Church

by Ghia Kelly
December 20th, 2022

This project explores the advancement of racial justice as a strategy for racial reconciliation in the U.S. Protestant Church with a focus on Tallahassee, Florida. Since racism and racial division are historical issues both in the United States and the Church, this project builds upon previous studies by analyzing the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes of members of three local faith-based justice groups regarding the current racial climate locally and nationally, the biblical role of the Church in advancing justice, the relationship between justice and reconciliation, the barriers that prevent the Church from moving forward, and strategies the Church can employ to advance racial justice and achieve true and lasting racial reconciliation. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 racially and denominationally diverse justice-focused Christians and clergy from 3 local faith-based justice groups in the Tallahassee area. A focus group was also conducted with 6 of the 12 with a specific emphasis on strategies. The data clearly showed that the majority of those interviewed believed that it was the biblical role of the Church to advance racial justice and that the Church, particularly the white Evangelical Church, has contributed to the tense racial climate. The results also show that while there are some local churches that are answering the call to do justice, many remain silent, which has caused the Church to lose much of its voice and influence in the area of social justice. Several key strategies were identified in the data that churches and faith-based groups can take to advance justice in a meaningful and sustainable way. In addition to these strategies, this project resulted in the development of a virtual group for justice- focused Christians to be equipped and build cross-racial relationships and greater collaboration among the three local faith-based justice groups in Tallahassee.