During last December’s Urbana conference in St. Louis, Missouri, Michelle Higgins, Director of Worship and Outreach at South City Church and Director of Faith for Justice, made waves by making the case for evangelical support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. But while some saw Higgins’ comments as controversial, she doesn’t see herself as an instigator or pot-strirrer. In fact, ask her what she feels called to do, and you’ll get quite a different answer:
“What do I want? What do I really want? I want to be the female, black Lin Manuel Miranda. That’s like—if Michelle was in charge, yeah, let’s go. . . . But I know that the Lord has called me into organizing and into activism, and the cool thing about this job that I’m in now is that I get to do those in my two favorite spaces—and those are the sanctuary and on the street.”
On this week’s episode of The Calling, Higgins joins CT Managing Editor Richard Clark for a conversation about truth-telling, the new “worship wars,” and how the church can transcend the cultural preferences that threaten to divide us. Here’s some of what she had to say:
On the need for forgiveness: “I think there’s a difference between protecting ourselves from abuse and forgiving. . . . Forgiveness is key. It is in a place where our hearts no longer sit in the presumption that we are ontologically better, that we are made in a higher order than those who do even the most awful crimes.”
On worshiping across cultural divides: “I really believe that both worship and outreach are a picture of relinquishing power and realizing that our systemic preference goes so much deeper inside the church, and has a way deeper impact on church unity. The Lord told us, ‘The world will see how you love one another, and that will be your testimony to them.’ If we can’t figure out how to worship together, we will never, ever have a testimony that reaches out to those watching.”
On her biggest challenge: “We’ve been under threat a few times, and it’s a struggle for us. It’s a real struggle for us to read these phrases that I preach: ‘Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.” . . . and then I go back, and I’m, like, cussing people out in my prayers. The Lord is actually showing me to bear with those who are struggling to sacrifice that huge piece of their own cultural comfort that would let us live in harmony together. It is not a small thing.”
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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred.
Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.